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.

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school boardIt was one of the more odd school board meetings I’ve covered, and I once watched a superintendent get fired over a $50,000 corrugated metal building, and sat through a back and forth about two percent versus whole milk that ended in tears.

But last Thursday’s regularly called Dallas ISD board of trustees meeting ranks right up there, to the point where I partly took the weekend to figure out how to cover it (I was also waiting for a trustee to return an email where I had requested comment, but that’s neither here nor there).

In the end, it was Facebook that gave me an idea of how to cover this. But we’ll get to that in a minute.

First, what happened. I think. I mean, I was covering it and live tweeting it, but I’m still a bit flummoxed.

The evening began with two students from Sunset High making impassioned — and eloquent — pleas for the board to address campus safety. Several more parents were on hand to advocate regarding Hogg and Ben Milam elementary schools, which are currently part of a very preliminary plan to possibly consolidate campuses, among other things.

The board pretty much ran through the rest of the agenda — including discussion about approving the purchase of school buses that can happen now that voters approved a proposition for that in the midterm elections.

Then came a usually fairly innocuous item, asking the board to approve the staffing formulas for 2019-2020. These models are generally based on what district staff feels the district can afford, and what will keep the district in compliance with various laws and best practices.

The staffing formulas are usually presented during the board briefing, and then are again presented (with any potential changes the board might have asked for, or any other revisions) to the regular board meeting a couple of weeks later, and voted on.

But District 7 trustee Audrey Pinkerton had opted to hold some public town halls between the board briefing and the board meeting, and had created an amendment after hearing concerns about the student to counselor ratios, as well as the safety monitor ratios.

But it was the timing of her amendment that seemed to tee off several of her fellow board members, and indeed, it seemed that many of them didn’t even have a copy of the amendment when it came up on the agenda — the board had to move on to several other items before coming back to it because staff needed time to make copies of it, and judging from several comments by trustees and staff, staff got the amendment sometime Wednesday afternoon or evening, and trustees got it Thursday morning. (more…)

homeless

Dallas ISD, who is partnering with Promise House, CitySquare and Social Venture Partners Dallas under the program After8toEducate to bring a first-of-its-kind service to address the needs of vulnerable students and other unsheltered city youth, celebrated the opening of the drop-in center at the Fannie C. Harris Youth Center Tuesday. But cold temperatures are bringing immediate needs (Photo courtesy After8toEducate).

As Ashley Warren stood shivering outside the Fannie C. Harris Youth Center Tuesday as dignitaries and partners cut the ribbon on the first phase of the drop-in center for Dallas ISD’s homeless youth, she realized something — her office was about to get even busier than usual.

Marshall is the manager of the district’s homeless education program, and when the mercury drops, she begins to worry about the thousands of students who lack shelter.

“I went to ribbon cutting for our new drop-in center today, and it was so cold,” she told me last night. “I realized that we are in for a bad winter and our phone is going to start to ring off the hook for various items.”

The district has about 4,000 students each year that are considered homeless — but most experts feel that number is likely much higher, since some won’t admit they’re homeless. (more…)

By Phil Crone
Executive Officer, Dallas Builders Association 

Craig Johnson had no idea who, if anyone, would turn up for Collin College’s first construction management course offerings. The newly hired instructor only had a few weeks to get the program up and running. Johnson expected around five students. He ended up with nearly 20.

These students enjoy a unique learning opportunity in the form of Collin College’s 340,000-square-foot technical campus, which recently broke ground in Allen. Once complete, the campus will include a 400-by-90-foot area exclusively dedicated to the construction trades.

Labs for plumbing, electrical, carpentry, and safety will be coupled with a 6,000-square-foot “build” lab, providing hands-on opportunities for students in all programs to work together on various projects. With a labor shortage hampering Dallas-Fort Worth’s construction industry to the tune of 25,000 to 35,000 missing workers, opportunities for graduates will be plentiful.

I recently met with these students while providing a guest lecture on the demands our fast-growing region is placing on the construction industry. I wish I was speaking to a stadium full of students who shared their interest. However, sharing an hour with them left me most excited about the quality of who is about to join our industry and optimistic that others will follow.

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Students from Skyline High School and several other campuses will take part in the Dallas Builders Show. (Courtesy Photos)

From Staff Reports

When it comes to skilled workers, Dallas and North Texas are feeling the pinch. To help generate interest in trade education, the Dallas Builders Association has partnered with Dallas ISD campuses, mentoring students and offering real-life experience through the building trades program. On Nov. 13, more than 100 Dallas ISD students, including the students from Skyline High School’s building trades program, will participate in the Dallas Builders Show.

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Dallas ISD

(Photo courtesy Dallas ISD)

Choice schools? Magnet schools? Neighborhood schools? What is the best choice for your child? Dallas ISD is aiming to help parents and families navigate those choices with a school shopping event at Fashion Institute Gallery on Nov. 3.

The event, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., will allow parents to visit with school personnel as they browse an array of specialty school options, and then even select a school on the spot and apply right there. (more…)

TREIn a bid to reassure voters, Dallas ISD trustees took the unusual move adopting a resolution that pledges to spend the first projected surplus a tax ratification election, or TRE , could produce on specific initiatives, including one that strategically increases employee salaries.

But the move was not without a lot of debate.  

Trustee Audrey Pinkerton put for a proposed resolution that would have the entire projected $126 million the 13-cent tax increase would generate in the first year be earmarked for those pay raises, with the board pledging to support the other three initiatives — racial equity initiatives, expanding school choice, and expanding pre-K.

But trustee Edwin Flores put forth another resolution that would have the board pledging to spend the entire $126 million on all four initiatives.

And yet another version authored by Lew Blackburn, dubbed the “compromise resolution,” combined the language of Pinkerton’s resolution with the language of the Flores resolution.

This was my attempt to marry two fairly similar resolutions,” he said. Flores said his resolution was modeled on the district’s strategic initiatives for the TRE, and said he wanted to align it with the entire presentation regarding the initiatives.

Legally, a current board cannot bind — or make promises for — a future board. But the resolution circumvented that by only committing the funds that would be generated from the TRE in the first year. (more…)

Editor’s Note: On Aug. 16, the Dallas ISD board of trustees voted 7-1 to put a 13-cent Tax Ratification Election (or TRE) on the Nov. 6 ballot. District 7 Trustee Audrey Pinkerton has proposed a resolution regarding the funds garnered from that property tax rate increase, should voters approve it. We asked her to explain it, and she obliged. 

By Audrey Pinkerton
Special Contributor

This Thursday, DISD trustees will vote on a resolution related to the Tax Ratification Election (TRE) on November 6. Here’s why that vote is critical to the future of the district.

By now you’ve probably been told that DISD needs more money. And you may be wondering why since your DISD property tax bill keeps going up. Unfortunately, due to the state’s convoluted school funding system, there’s a big disconnect between what you pay and what DISD gets.

At a series of community meetings in August, Superintendent Hinojosa laid out the case for a tax rate increase: without more state funding, the district won’t be able to cover its costs next year. He showed a 5-year plan to raise the tax rate now, set money aside for future cost increases (primarily to keep up with wage inflation), and borrow from those reserves starting in 2020. It’s a prudent plan that insures financial support for the district without relying on a largely unsupportive state legislature. (more…)