Sunday, November 1, 2015

Ten Questions on the 2015 Dallas ISD Bond Plan

(Addendum: the bond election passed with the largest number of voters in history voting against it, over 16,000 voters! The money spent on the election also is a record.  Over $116 per vote was spent by bond supporters for each "Yes" vote cast while an estimated 12.5 cents was used for each "No" vote cast. The questions below are more important than ever!)
  1. In 2002 and 2008 the bond planning committee had meeting minutes and attendance records taken and specific recommendations they voted on.  Why was the 2015 Future Facilities Task Force started under Mike Miles allowed to operate with no minutes, no attendance records, no recorded affirmation of votes taken for the bond plan components, and virtually no record of the specific process and the details and sources for their recommendations? Why do members say that they did not vote on the 2015 Plan?
  2. How is DISD going to fill a new 1,500 student Pk-8 school that is still on the public 2015 Bond Plans for West Dallas without closing any West Dallas elementary schools?  Due to the public uproar it was promised no schools would be closed. Is the real plan to draw students away from West Dallas Schools with a brand new Pk-8 until several of them are actually closed due to being underutilized?  Why build one new $64 million Pk-8 and not invest that money in middle school facilities at current West Dallas Pk-5 schools to create Pk-8 schools closer to student homes?  Many parents want that.

  3. How is DISD following the priorities outlined in the 2013 Parsons Report by ignoring Facility Condition Index (FCI) measurements to spend $41 million to tear down and rebuild Rosemont, a school listed in “good” condition (11.74% FCI), and in better condition than 96 other DISD elementary schools, 25 middle schools, and 21 high schools?   Should the FCI scores be ignored to this extent?

  4. Why is not a fraction of the $41 million allocated to tear down and rebuild Rosemont being used to correct the problems at Rosemont, and restore this historic treasure as identified by Preservation Dallas?   Then the remainder of the $41 million could be used to help build middle school facilities for other Pk-5 schools where parents want to transform their child’s school into a Pk-8 school!   Could that not take the enrollment pressure off Rosemont, and serve as many as three times the students with the same $41 million?
  5. Since less than 15% of “choice schools” in DISD are currently filled to capacity, how does DISD know there is a need for more such “choice” schools?  Choice schools are more expensive per student and DISD parents are apparently showing that they prefer their own neighborhood school if it is getting the needed attention to keep it up to date.  Or, is the focus on “choice schools” part of the strategy to decimate more community neighborhood schools?

  6. Since the first Pk-8 transition school is filled to capacity, and turning away students due to their open enrollment policy, and it is the highest rated non-magnet school in all of DISD, why aren’t DISD staff meeting with parents at other DISD schools to advise them of Pk-8 alternatives so the parents could decide if they want such a transition for their schools?

  7. Why isn’t the focus of the 2015 Bond Program on neighborhood community Pk-8 schools instead of the much more expensive and less in demand “choice” schools?   Pk-8 schools are generally better supported by research as being very successful and are less expensive per student than “choice” schools.

  8. Since the increase in Pre-k enrollment at DISD has been less than 350 students over the past two years, less than 2% each year, and this year alone DISD has suffered over a 1,100 decrease in Kindergarten enrollment, over an 8% decrease below any year in 18 years, why is there urgency to create new Pre-k classrooms?   Since Kindergarten enrollment went down this year over 300% more than Pre-k enrollment went up, where is the urgency for Pre-K in 2015 Bond?

  9. When the general decline in DISD enrollment for students younger than second graders is mentioned, some say there are severe pockets of need that still demand the 2015 Bond moneys for Pre-k space.  Where are those schools?

  10. Total DISD enrollment is now down over 3,000 students below projected enrollment!   Most of this decline is in the kindergarten class which is down over 1,000 students from last year alone.  Kindergarten enrollment is now the lowest enrollment in over 18 years by over 1,000 kindergarten students! If this decline continues, what corrections are needed for the 2015 Bond?  Why aren’t such corrections listed in this current 2015 bond plan?