Photo courtesy Dallas ISD

Special Contributor

Four new career institutes in Dallas ISD will provide students with workforce-ready skills that high-wage employers need now and in the future.

Dallas ISD Chief Academic Officer Ivonne Durant and Assistant Superintendent Oswaldo Alvarenga briefed trustees on Sept. 12 about the updated plan to open four career institutes in the four quadrants of the district.

“We understand that while some students will enter college directly after high school graduation, other students will need to join the workforce immediately, and still others may need to work while they attend college or pursue postsecondary education,” Alvarenga said. “This is a career and tech education program that will guide students from concept to hands-on training with instruction by experienced tradesmen with firsthand experience and the contacts to connect students to internships, apprenticeships, and jobs in their industry. (more…)

Blue Ribbon

Photos courtesy Dallas ISD

Submitted story

Three Dallas ISD schools have earned the 2019 National Blue Ribbon School award, one of the highest honors for a campus.

Judge Barefoot Sanders Law Magnet School, Walnut Hill Elementary School, and Jack Lowe Sr. Elementary School are Blue Ribbon Schools.

The U.S. Department of Education awards the Blue Ribbon recognition to schools where students perform at very high levels or where exemplary progress is being made toward closing achievement gaps.

Lowe Elementary Principal Sandra Barrios held back tears as Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced in a video the school earned Blue Ribbon honors. Lowe Elementary School was an Improvement Required campus just five years ago. The neighborhood elementary school serves a diverse student population, with many students coming as refugees or unable to speak English. (more…)

Dallas ISD

Photo courtesy Dallas ISD

Submitted story

Amber Shields has a unique perspective as principal of N.W. Harllee Early Childhood Center: it’s where she attended elementary school.

“Harllee is like home to me, and it’s a privilege to lead such a tremendous school,” Shields said.

Shields, who previously served as an assistant principal at Soto Elementary, is one the district’s 20 principals starting their first year leading a campus. Of those 20 first-year principals, 19 are homegrown candidates such as Shields who previously worked in Dallas ISD schools. (more…)

Dallas ISD

Photo courtesy Dallas ISD

The good news? Dallas ISD maintained its B grade from the Texas Education Agency this year, in fact, it went up from an 81 to an 86. In fact, of 232 Dallas ISD schools, 28 got an A and 102 earned a B, making it 57 percent of Dallas ISD schools making an A or B this year.

The bad news? Last year the district had four schools that didn’t meet state standards. This year, the number is eight. But even that is couched in some good news/bad news. Only one school is a repeat from last year, meaning three of last year’s schools met state standard this year. But yes, it’s bittersweet when seven new schools join the list.

So Who Got an A?

Lots of expected schools, of course, but also some incredibly bright stories from places like Edward Titche Elementary and Jack Lowe Sr. Elementary, all schools that not that long ago didn’t meet state standards.  (more…)

Dallas ISDIt happened again this week. Someone (in our comments section, no less) came in at a rate of speed somewhere between Miley Cyrus’s wrecking ball and the Kool-Aid man through a wall to utter this phrase: “Dallas ISD is failing.”

Now, to anyone who has paid attention, we know this isn’t true. Anyone who is a regular reader here knows this isn’t true, because I’ve told you it isn’t true, in five-part harmony and in interpretative dance, and continue to do so weekly as part of our ongoing School+House feature.

But instead of going with facts and figures (and yes, I’ll have a deeper dive on the latest TEA scores later this week), I’m going personal.

I’m going to tell you why my husband and I chose Dallas ISD over the plethora of options we had for our son. And I’m going to tell you something else that isn’t really a secret, but something I don’t think I’ve ever shared here. (more…)

property taxAlmost a year after voters approved a 13-cent property tax hike in a Tax Ratification Election, the Dallas ISD board of trustees will discuss reducing the rate this Thursday.

In November, voters approved raising the rate from $1.04 to $1.17, the first increase since 2008. The agenda for Thursday’s regular meeting includes discussion of reducing the rate to about $1.06 per $100 valuation. 

Specifically, the measure would set the maintenance and operation tax rate at $1.068350, and the debt service tax rate at 242035 cents, which winds up being about $1.31 per $100 valuation, a 3.26 percent decrease in the total tax rate.

“We appreciate the tax payers helping us out when we needed you and the state leg. for finance reform,” said trustee Miguel Solis on Twitter. “Proud to lower those taxes.”

In May, the Texas legislature passed sweeping education funding reform, which was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott with much pomp and circumstance. All 139 House members and all 30 state senators voted to approve House Bill 3, which included $6.5 billion in public education funding and teacher pay increases, and $5.1 billion to lower school district taxes. (more…)

Chapel Hill

Photo courtesy Teaching Trust

The 2019 school accountability scores were issued by the Texas Education Agency this week (more on that next week), just in time for this week’s School + House, where we head to the one Dallas ISD school in Farmers Branch — Chapel Hill Preparatory. 

Full disclosure — we’re a newly-minted Chapel Hill family. But what excited us about the school — its emphasis on social and emotional learning combined with a new approach to academics — is what also makes it a somewhat hidden gem in the area.

And lo and behold, this year’s scores revealed that not only did the school meet state standards, but it also got four of six possible distinctions.

The school, which was formerly named Cabell Elementary, was renamed in 2018 after the area surrounding it, which is informally called Chapel Hill. 

A quick tour of the school (we’ve had a few by now) shows some of the things that make it stand out — a quiet room for meditation and calming down (complete with a fountain and yoga mats), another room for “heavy work” that can help calm and center stressed students, flexible seating in every classroom (including stationary bike desks in some classrooms), bright and cheerful layouts and design, and plenty of gardens for learning opportunities are just a few of the things you might not expect when someone tells you about a Dallas ISD school.  (more…)

Dallas ISD

422 N Marlborough Ave. Unit A is in the Quintanilla Middle School footprint, and is listed by Kenneth A. Landers III with Rogers Healy and Associates.

We hear a lot about magnet schools in Dallas ISD, but what about the great neighborhood schools? Are they just as innovative?

The answer is likely yes, and if it isn’t a resounding yes, it just might be soon, the district said, thanks to new initiatives aimed at bringing the innovation you see in magnets and other schools of innovation in the district.

Take, for instance, the Innovation Engine Grant Program, which the district says will award up to 20 neighborhood schools each year with $50,000 to explore and implement new education models.

Or there’s also what is already happening in several local middle schools, where two separate initiatives are being heralded as a way to address that often tricky period between elementary school and high school. 

First, this year’s budget includes $10 million in funding from the district in the Achieving in the Middle (AIM) initiative, which will implement proven strategies to improve middle school outcomes — everything from social and emotional learning, extending learning, strategic staffing and more. The district says 23 middle schools will benefit from the program this year.  (more…)