It was contentious, a lot. In fact, at one point almost anyone remotely affiliated with a Scott Griggs supporter was blocked by mayoral candidate Eric Johnson on social media. But in the end, he not only unblocked everyone, according to his campaign, but he also won a fairly combative race to become Dallas’ next mayor.

Johnson beat Griggs 55 percent to 44 percent.

Click on map to see larger version.

The tone Johnson took Saturday night was much lighter as he spoke to supporters after Griggs conceded. 

After making his way to the stage and hugging his wife, Johnson took a deep breath.

“This is one of those moments that you think you’re prepared for, but you’re just never prepared for something like this,” he said, going on to thank Griggs for his years of service to the city. (more…)

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…)

Photo courtesy Dallas ISD

Pretty much immediately after former WFAA-reporter-cum-political-candidate Brett Shipp posted that it appeared Dallas ISD school board trustee Jaime Resendez didn’t live in his district, we started poking around, too.

Probably just like everyone else.

And the Dallas Morning News did a few stories. Shipp continuously tweets about it. And we continued to quietly try to figure out what in the Sam Hill was going on, and let me tell ya, if you read all those stories, it’s still confusing.

What we do know: Resendez moved out of his District 4 sometime in the late summer/early fall of 2017. According to the Dallas Central Appraisal District, the deed to the home on Mission Hills Lane, which is just a few blocks out of District 4, transferred to Resendez from the seller on Aug. 30, 2017.

He also did not claim a homestead exemption on the property. (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…)

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…)

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…)