District of Innovation

About 400 school districts and counting have adopted District of Innovation plans. Dallas ISD became the latest to do so in a 6-3 vote Thursday night. (Photo by Flickr/Stuart Pilbrow)

Dallas, Highland Park, and Ector County schools recently became the latest districts to opt for the “District of Innovation” status. Districts across Texas are grabbing hold of a 2015 law that allows them wider flexibility and control of everything from the start and end dates for the school year, class size, and length of a school day,  to who they can hire to teach.

Highland Park ISD’s board of trustees voted a District of Innovation plan in March. Ector County ISD passed its plan in April.

The District of Innovation concept was provided for in 2015 when the state legislature passed House Bill 1842, which allows districts some flexibility in seeking exemptions to state education code on various facets of curriculum, governance, accountability, and finance.

To begin the journey, a board adopts a resolution to examine the issue, then holds public hearings and appoints a committee to develop the district’s plan.

Proponents point to the local control, and to the opportunity for the same flexibility charter schools have. Opponents frequently say there is the potential for a slippery slope scenario that would lead to hiring unqualified teachers.

There is also a fair amount of fret about what teacher contracts would look like on a District of Innovation landscape, but so far districts that have passed plans have insisted teacher contracts would not be affected. (more…)

great school districts

This home at 3041 Trinity Lane in Keller is priced at $539,000, which makes it a bargain if you’re looking for a family home in Southlake-Carroll ISD, listed as one of Niche’s great school districts.

It’s not unusual — many of the great school districts in the Dallas/Fort Worth area are also in the priciest cities and neighborhoods.

So when the website Niche advertised that it could help folks find the best schools in your metro area, we decided to take a gander at their list, and then go on a mission to locate the cheapest abode a family could expect to find among their top five districts.

The results are as follows.

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district 6 vote

Writer Bethany Erickson voted in less than five minutes yesterday, between tutoring readers and carpool.

As we take a look at Dallas ISD District 6 today, keep in mind that through next Tuesday, early voting means you, too, can walk in, do your civic duty, and walk back out in less time than it takes to pick up your dry cleaning.

catYesterday, between tutoring for Reading Partners and carpool, I stopped in to vote. It took me exactly three minutes from parking the car to getting back in and starting the engine. Just saying.

I know it may seem unimportant, but you probably do 500 unimportant things all day. Even if you think this is unimportant, too, maybe decide not to Google to see what happened to that guy who toured with Hansen, and go vote instead.

Or tell Janice you don’t have time to gab at the coffee pot today because you have to duck out and vote. I mean, given that it takes less than five minutes to vote, you still have time to pick up tacos on your way back. And bonus: then you get to be smug because you went to vote, and you have tacos.

See? Voting = Tacos. Tacos > Janice (sorry, Janice, but seriously, how often can you hear her story about what happened at the raw foods store she stopped at after Crossfit?). I repeat: Tacos.

Yesterday we reviewed the District 2 race, and today we’ll take a look at a much less contentious and quiet race — District 6.

As I have in previous elections, I will be breaking down each race and assigning a mathematical value to key endorsements for a final score.

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VOTE ART1

Before we start on District 2, let’s get this out of the way first: Are you going to vote for school board and city council elections? Did you know that right now you can vote pretty much anywhere in the county, making it super convenient to vote on say, during your lunch break?

I bring this up because every May it seems like I have to guilt everyone into voting, and still — hardly anybody does. But boy howdy do people have an opinion about Dallas ISD and how it’s run — but somehow for some of you, those opinions aren’t motivating enough to head to the polls.

Does that say something about the strength of your arguments? I don’t know. But I do know it’s a crying shame that less than 10 percent of all voters make decisions for 100 percent of us. Maybe we should work on changing that this year?

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Dallas Builders Association

Students at Skyline High School’s construction trades program had the chance to meet with members of the Dallas Builders Association this month as part of the DBA’s initiative to work with Dallas ISD. (Photo courtesy Dallas Builders Association)

A few months ago, Dallas Builders Association president Michael Turner of Classic Urban Homes voiced a desire to address a need for more skilled workers by working with Dallas ISD to train and mentor students.

In February, Turner began to reach out. “We have builders that are willing to mentor high school kids,” he said then, calling the push to work with local schools “probably my biggest initiative.”

And in a few short months, Turner is beginning to see that come to fruition. In March, he and Dallas Builders Association executive officer Phil Crone met with Doug Palmer and Cody Seabolt, instructors with Skyline High School’s construction trades program. (more…)

The board of Dallas County Schools met today in a special called meeting. Among the agenda items were strong hints Superintendent Rick Sorrells will no longer be with the agency.

The board of Dallas County Schools met today in a special called meeting. Among the agenda items were strong hints Superintendent Rick Sorrells will not be with the agency. (Photo courtesy Dallas County Schools)

Embattled school transportation provider Dallas County Schools may have been able to continue its relationship with Dallas Independent School District, but as early as this morning it seemed its superintendent could be the most recent casualty of a recent spate of very bad news.

DCS, which provides busing for Dallas, Carrollton/Farmers Branch, Highland Park, Irving, Aledo, Cedar Hill, Coppell, DeSoto, Lancaster, Richardson, Weatherford and White Settlement school districts, called a special meeting today.

The agenda included two ominous items –  “Consider Appointing an Interim Superintendent” and “Consider Defining Requirements and Authorizing Search for a Permanent Superintendent.”

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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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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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