Articles by

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson lives in a 1950s Midway Hollow bungalow with a husband, a preschooler and a dog. If she didn't live in the Hollow, she would probably live in Eastwood or Lochwood, and would buy a Fay Jones home if she won the lottery.

02/20/17 9:55am

Dallas electionsFourteen Dallas City Council seats and three Dallas Independent School District trustee seats are up for grabs on May 6. I’ll start saying this early — as I always do: It can cost somewhere around $1 million to hold an election, and in most May Dallas elections, we see less than 10 percent of voters turning out to vote.

And it really couldn’t be much easier. Check and see if you’re registered to vote here.  If you’re not, you can click here to register. If you vote early, you can vote at any early voting polling location in the county – so on your way to work, during your lunch break, on your way home, or even on a Saturday. The last day to register to vote is April 6. Early voting begins April 24 and will continue through May 2 for all Dallas elections.

The last day to register to vote is April 6. Early voting begins April 24 and will continue through May 2. You can even vote on a Saturday or a Sunday.

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02/10/17 7:13am
Hawthorne Elementary will be moved up on Dallas ISD's revised list of campuses that will be improved as part of the 2015 bond program. (Photo courtesy Dallas ISD)

Hawthorne Elementary will be moved up on Dallas ISD’s revised list of campuses that will be improved as part of the 2015 bond program. (Photo courtesy Dallas ISD)

Some Dallas schools may see themselves move up or down the proposed list of bond projects, it was revealed at a recent budget workshop.

It’s been almost two years since the most recent bond package was approved by voters. It’s been a little more than three years since the Parson’s Report detailing the needs of every campus in the Dallas Independent School District came out. 

And largely because of this, new chief operations officer Scott Layne and his team began taking a closer look at the original bond projects slated for improvements or expansions, as well as some of the new construction projects. And as a result, he presented a new timeline for projects at a recent school board budget workshop — one that re-prioritizes based on decay or program need.

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02/03/17 5:44pm
The Dallas Builders Association would like to address the dire shortage of skilled workers by a potential innovative partnership with Dallas ISD.

The Dallas Builders Association would like to address the dire shortage of skilled workers by a potential innovative partnership with Dallas ISD.

If you’re building a new home, or are a builder, this will come as no shock to you: It’s taking longer to get the job done, and it’s more expensive.

In fact, at a recent annual meeting, National Association of Home Builders economist Robert Dietz said this shortage was actually holding home construction growth back.

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02/02/17 3:40pm
clintonhouse

A visit to Bill and Hillary’s starter home in Fayetteville, Ark., prompted Bethany Erickson to take a look at what the real estate market in the area looks like — and it’s a boon for second home hunters.

Love mountains, but also love shopping? Love Austin, but hate the traffic?

Haaaaaaaave you met Fayetteville, Ark.?

Now, I must confess a great deal of bias — Fayetteville is my old stomping grounds, and whenever we get a chance, we head there for R&R. In fact, we were there over Christmas vacation, and had the chance to tour a very well-known starter home — Bill and Hillary Clinton’s first home — where they lived while both taught at University of Arkansas’ law school.

Read more at SecondShelters.com!

01/27/17 9:04am

 

The fight over school funding will commence in the Texas legislature soon - but no bill is filed just yet.

The fight over school funding will commence in the Texas legislature soon, but no bill is filed just yet.

This week, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Gov. Greg Abbott donned yellow scarves and held a “School Choice Week” rally in Austin.

“I hope and I urge that that law reach my desk,” Abbott declared. “And when it does, I will make the choice to sign it and authorize school choice in the state of Texas.”

Across the country, the nation spends about $1 billion per year to send students to private schools.

A bill (and nobody knows for sure what it will look like because it hasn’t been filed yet) will likely easily pass in the Texas senate, where Republicans outnumber Democrats (who are largely opposed) 20-11. Less clear is if it could pass the House, despite the fact that there are 95 Republican members and 55 Democrat members.

Why? One reason, I suspect, is because while private schools are abundant in more urban areas, in more rural parts of the state public school is the only available choice. Will the potential of vouchers lure private and charter schools further afield? That remains to be seen. But I imagine that support for choice is a little more tentative in areas where the public school district is the sole provider of education, where constituents may be reluctant to cut back on that funding even more.

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01/18/17 12:09pm
Photo courtesy Dallas ISD Foster Elementary School will host a open house for parents and community members interested in Spanish language immersion tonight from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Photo courtesy Dallas ISD
Foster Elementary School is, preliminarily, an “Excelling” campus under Dallas ISD’s new School Performance Framework announced recently.

Last week, I wrote about the cockamamie A through F rating system. In a throwaway line, I mentioned talking about vouchers. But before I do that, I need to back up and talk about SPF.

No, not the sunscreen (although you should wear some, my doctor says). This is something that I think gives a much better picture of where your neighborhood school is when it comes to progress.

Now, full disclosure, I’ve known about the School Performance Framework for Campus Success for a couple months now. It was embargoed, so I couldn’t write about it. And I did want to wait to see how everything would shake out with the state ratings, too. (more…)

01/12/17 3:29pm
HightlandParkHS

Even Highland Park ISD scored a C in a category in the state’s new A through F ratings system.

It’s been about a week since Texas released its first “what-if” A through F grades for school districts and schools — a measure adopted by the last Texas legislature, ostensibly as a way to tell parents how their district and schools were doing.

And in that time, 219-and-counting school districts have adopted resolutions against it. Why? Largely because even typically high-performing schools are getting Ds and Fs in at least one of the categories that formed the overall grade. For instance, the Highland Park Independent School District, where nearly every kid goes to college and the overall tally of scholarship dollars earned by a graduating class is routinely worked into the commencement speeches, scored a C for postsecondary readiness.

Dallas ISD earned a B in the same category. In addition, the district earned a D in student performance and Bs in student progress and closing the achievement gaps between poor students and their peers. The district earned a B overall. (more…)

12/23/16 7:25am
When the Texas legislature gavels into session in January, education will be a hot topic. (Photo courtesy Nicolas Henderson/Flickr)

When the Texas legislature gavels into session in January, education will be a hot topic. (Photo courtesy Nicolas Henderson/Flickr)

When the Texas legislature reconvenes January 10, it will have a laundry list of things to tackle – some controversial, some mundane (you can keep up to date on the full list of bills filed here). But some of the biggest issues will involve the trajectory of public education in the state.

While we can’t provide an exhaustive list of everything the legislature will address this session (although rest assured – we’ll be keeping you abreast of the most vital pieces of legislation), I thought it would be a good idea to look at three key things legislature will have to address this session.

The biggest, of course, will be school finance. This is the one that not only affects how schools budget for education and innovation, but also how good and great schools stay good and great schools, and schools that need improvement have the tools to improve. And this, of course, directly impacts the bottom lines of Realtors and homebuyers and sellers, since schools are frequently in the top five considerations when it comes to looking for that family abode.

And, of course, school finances are currently tied to property taxes, which makes whatever the legislature does of vital importance to homeowners. And trust me, the legislature will have to do something – the courts have mandated it. It won’t be cheap, and it won’t be easy, but expect much discussion over better funding formulas in the 85th legislative session. (more…)