charterA month after a proposed policy to partner with nonprofits to run certain Dallas ISD schools was taken off the agenda for the Dallas ISD board of trustees regular meeting in January, the matter will once again be brought before the board at its briefing Thursday.

Board briefings are held once a month, prior to the regular board meeting, and are an opportunity for the board to discuss and get up to speed on items that will likely appear on the regular board meeting agenda. It’s also the time they are briefed on district progress. Dallas ISD holds their board briefings at 11:30 a.m. on Thursdays.

Although there had been several posts on Facebook and other social media sites insisting a special called meeting would be held at 9 a.m. Thursday to vote on the policy, ostensibly to hamper public comment, a call to Dallas ISD news and information director Robyn Harris revealed that the only meeting scheduled for that day was the board briefing, and that the policy was on the agenda for discussion.

An email to board president Edwin Flores to ascertain if a 9 a.m. meeting would be called went unanswered, but the likelihood of an early meeting to vote on something that is on the agenda to discuss at the board briefing (as well as on the agenda at the regular board meeting on Feb. 28) is doubtful.

At last month’s board meeting, the agenda originally indicated that trustees would discuss a policy that would set up the framework for the district to take advantage of a state law — SB 1882 —  that was passed in the last legislative session. That policy would permit the district to partner with specific nonprofits to run certain schools.

The law incentivized partnerships between school districts and charter schools by offering about $1,800 per student in additional funding for campuses that are in a partnership. It also was a third option for improvement required schools that were facing closure, and provided a bit of reprieve from that. (more…)

After a meeting to discuss the fate of the Dallas ISD District 4 seat that had been held by Jaime Resendez was canceled last week, the rest of the board was able to hammer out the details on what steps would be taken to appoint someone to the seat.

The board first voted to accept Resendez’s resignation. The trustee came under fire after it was discovered last month that he was living outside District 4 by a few blocks.

Resendez had already announced that he did not intend to run for re-election, opting to instead run to replace Dallas city council member Rickey Don Callahan, who had announced he would not be running for another term.

However, as of today, Resendez has not filed to run for that seat either — Yolanda Williams is the sole filer. Resendez has until Feb. 15 to file.

Once the matter of his resignation was handled, the board then turned to crafting a timeline and requirements for gathering applicants to fill the unexpired term — which amounts to three or four months.

The meeting was not without some fireworks, however. Trustee Joyce Foreman, angered that she only just received a timeline when the previous (and canceled) meeting had no mention of a timeline, grilled board attorney Carlos Lopez. (more…)

(Photos courtesy Dallas ISD)

Dallas ISD will host what it is billing as the largest STEM Expo in Texas next weekend at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center, and Dallas families are invited to attend.

More than 140 hands-on exhibits will be featured, many showcasing the district’s STEM championships in math, science, robotics, technology, and bridge-building.

STEM

“Visitors will interact with field experts, community members, educators, industry partners and STEM organizations,” the district said. (more…)

Dallas ISD

The gallery was packed for Thursday night’s Dallas ISD school board meeting, where three proposals drew a lot of public attention.

Three proposed plans by Dallas ISD gave Thursday evening’s school board meeting a packed gallery — and a full slate of speakers that took more than an hour and a half to complete. But only one of those plans was actually on the agenda.

A proposed course in African-American studies was on the agenda, and brought out several speakers. The course would teach district students about important historical figures in African-American history. Many of the speakers discussed the need for the course — and some even vowed to work with the district to supplement and enhance what would be taught.

Several spoke out in favor of a proposed program for African-American studies.

“My heart is happy that there are so many here,” Justin Henry interjected — something that doesn’t usually happen during the portion of the school board meetings allotted for public comment.

Henry added that he knew more speakers were there to talk about another agenda item — a proposed policy that would allow the district for partnerships with nonprofit entities to operate some district schools — but that he wished more people would be passionate about “this issue of racial equity, and that he wished they knew that when it comes to reading, African American students are frequently at the bottom of readiness.

He also pointed out that all the people who spoke out — with the exception of one speaker — for the African American studies program were black, showing more people needed to understand the impact inequity has on schools.

Several parents and advocates spoke about district plans to potentially change the Woodrow Wilson High School feeder pattern — specifically regarding a proposal to turn Geneva Heights Elementary into a fifth through sixth-grade school to alleviate some overcrowding issues at Long Middle School.

Parents told the board that they chose Geneva Heights specifically, and resented the idea that they would lose their neighborhood school. Many spoke to the school’s diverse student body, as well as the time and effort its teachers and staff had taken to go through the rigorous process to become an International Baccalaureate school.

“This school is a gem,” said one speaker. (more…)

Pastors for Texas Children honored First United Methodist Church-Dallas senior minister Andy Stoker with its “Hero For Texas Children” award Thursday. Pictured, from left, Stoker, Dallas Judge Clay Jenkins, Dallas ISD superintendent Michael Hinojosa, and Pastors for Texas Children executive director Charles Foster Johnson. (Photo courtesy Angela Patterson/FUMC-Dallas)

[Editor’s note: Merry Christmas! This week, we’re taking time off to focus on our loved ones, so we are sharing some of our favorite stories from this year. Keep an eye out for our top features from the archives as we rest and get ready for a brilliant 2019! Cheers, from Candy and the entire staff at CandysDirt.com!]

It may have been unusually — for Dallas — chilly Thursday morning, but the warmth inside First United Methodist Church downtown was effusive when an organization of faith leaders held a breakfast gathering to talk about their unified efforts to advocate for public education.

Pastors for Texas Children members were also there to honor the church’s senior minister, Andy Stoker, with their “Hero for Texas Children” award, recognizing him for leading his church in work to provide assistance and care for children in Dallas ISD schools. (more…)

Dallas ISD

Fresh from his runoff win Saturday, Justin Henry was sworn in as the trustee for Dallas ISD District 9 before the school board worked its way through the agenda. The district announced preliminary school accountability ratings revealed a significant drop in Improvement Required schools (Photo courtesy: Dallas ISD).

[Editor’s note: Merry Christmas! This week, we’re taking time off to focus on our loved ones, so we are sharing some of our favorite stories from this year. Keep an eye out for our top features from the archives as we rest and get ready for a brilliant 2019! Cheers, from Candy and the entire staff at CandysDirt.com!]

Bethany: One of the biggest stories of 2018 was the incredible successes Dallas ISD was able to celebrate this year – successes so incredible, in fact, that other districts and schools all over the state (and country) are making the trek to Dallas to learn how one of the biggest turnaround stories in the country happened.

Super nerdy confession: The original title of this piece was “Dallas ISD May Have Just Done Something Miraculous.”

But then I remembered a long senior year where my Honors English teacher insisted that we study S.I. Hayakawa’s “Language in Thought and Action,” a book about semantics so revered it’s currently in its fifth edition.

I may not remember much from high school coursework, but I do remember that book, and what it taught about language, and why the words we choose can impact the message. And miracle is not the right word, really, for what has happened in Dallas ISD.

You see, four years ago, 43 of the district’s 230 schools were labeled Improvement Required in the state accountability ratings — meaning that those schools weren’t just at risk, or struggling, but that they had actually failed to meet state standards. (more…)

Dallas ISDThe good news? The Dallas ISD is on firm financial footing. The not-so-great news, but with a silver lining? The chief financial officer brought in to correct course feels confident enough to retire — again.

Dallas ISD CFO Larry Throm lead the board through the district’s financial report during the Dec. 13 board meeting. After his presentation, Superintendent Michael Hinojosa surprised those gathered with the announcement that Throm would retire.

“Larry has done a phenomenal job in this district and we are set for the next five years thanks to his work,” Hinojosa said.

Throm was hired in 2017, but not for the first time. He was also the district’s CFO during Hinojosa’s first tenure as superintendent. Hinojosa came back after the departure of Mike Miles, and in 2017 convinced Throm to leave retired life and come back to the district.

And how well did he do? Under Throm’s second tenure, the district met board policy of having two months of unassigned fund balance for the first time since June 2013. Throm told the board that night. The five-year financial forecast shows the district is on firm footing for the foreseeable future, too. (more…)

Rita Santamaria, founder of Champtions School of Real Estate, celebrates 35 years of success this December.

The typical gift for a 35th anniversary is jade, but Champions School of Real Estate founder Rita Santamaria is getting two brand new campues for the company she created in December of 1983. Though the journey from a single-classroom office off of Pebblebend Drive to the nine-campus network of today wasn’t always smooth, it’s definitely something to celebrate.

Champions School of Real Estate had humble beginnings with a single-classroom office.

Thousands of students have begun or continued their real estate careers after walking through the doors of a Champions School of Real Estate campus, and the growth of the company has been calculated and strategic, lending the kind of longevity that other brands dream of.

(more…)