Thursday, June 23, 2016

06-23-16 Board Testimony regarding 9400 North Central Expressway Purchase

Items 9.13 and Item 10.2 relating to the new DISD Administrative Headquarters at 9400 North Central Expressway

At the DISD School Board meeting on 4-28-16 the 8 trustees voted 5 to 3 to purchase a $46 million building at 9400 North Central Expressway as Administrative Offices.  Two of the yes-vote trustees are no longer on the board.  Now it appears this issue has been pulled from today’s agenda. 
That is sad.
This current Central Headquarters is actually north of the DISD student population center for DISD.  The 9400 North Central Expressway location will simply be 6 miles more distant from most DISD students and parents. DISD wants parents to get more involved, but is moving 6 miles farther away from the large majority of parents.
The original vote on this purchase was only made public within a week of the board meeting.  The only testimony at the meeting was against it, by me.  I gave copies of a map, online linked from, to the trustees to document how this is a move away from the children.  That was apparently not important except to the three trustees who represented far south Dallas and the schools that would simply all be 6 miles more distant from DISD Headquarters.  Now there are two new trustees whose districts will also be 6 miles more distant from this new “Central” location and thereby negatively affected by this move.  DISD must have a second vote as only 1/3 of the current board approved this damaging move.  The people should be represented.
Here is the map I handed out at the 4-28-16 meeting:
This map clearly shows how the 9400 North Central Expressway location pulls the "Central" Headquarters much farther away from the center of DISD and away from the large majority of DISD schools.  
Also, I have not heard data about the energy costs in this new location.  Buildings this age are often imploded due to maintenance and energy costs.  Is that a factor with this building?  At the meeting discussing this building I do not recall hearing questions about energy consumption.  Now we are already talking about $12 million for modifications.
I have gone to examine the building on a cold morning and could not help but notice locations where air was obviously leaking around windows from the building.  Are such repairs included in the modification?

The logic behind centralizing staff is very good, but not when it is 6 miles more distant from most DISD families.  The Nolan Estes Plaza is a much better location and within 5 miles of three times the number of schools of the 9400 North Central Expressway location. Clearing that land for a new building seems to be the most efficient move, especially if we can take advantage of the next Dallas building downturn.