District 2 runoff candidates 2017

With less than 300 votes separating incumbent Dustin Marshall and challenger Lori Kirkpatrick in the May election for Dallas ISD District 2 trustee, voters will make their way to the polls again for a runoff election — beginning with early voting, which starts today.

Just kidding. A handful of voters will make their way to the polls and the rest will comment on a story I write about something happening in Dallas ISD about six months from now and will kvell about how we need better leadership for school board.

And if you knew how much it costs to have an election, you’d probably realize you need to get to the polls. We’re frittering away money. Here’s a breakdown I found of a 2015 election bill Dallas County gave the city. Spend some time poking around and realize we’re paying for this twice every time we have a general election AND a runoff election.

I’ve been doing this a long time.

Less than 8 percent of registered voters voted on May 6 in Dallas County. In some precincts of District 2, nobody voted. In others, less than 10. In yet others, less than five.  And right now, during early voting, it’s the easiest thing in the world you can do. (more…)

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…)

Election day

12:05 a.m. And now for some reaction:

Alex Dickey reached out to supporters via NextDoor, thanking them and adding, “This campaign for City Council has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. The best part was having the opportunity to meet so many of you at your doorstep.”

“I’m very happy,” Philip Kingston told me around midnight. “District 14 can’t be bought.”

And on Facebook, Matt Wood responded, “Today, we did not receive the outcome we had hoped for. However, we thank the 3,307 voters and dozens of volunteers who shared Matt’s vision for a more collaborative style of leadership.”

“Congratulations to Mr. Kingston for his victory with 55 percent of the vote,” he added.
Our 42 percent will be paying very close attention.”

Dwaine Caraway thanked his supporters, and told the Dallas Morning News, “I even want to thank the people who hated me and worked so hard against me.”

“When you defeat the haters, that means that God has his plan and his arms wrapped around you, protecting you from every single one of them,” he added.

Erik Wilson said he felt the confusion between his name and a similar sounding opponent, Eric Williams, may have contributed to his second-place finish against Tennell Atkins. “With the absence of any confusion, I feel really good about the runoff,” Wilson told the Dallas Morning News.

And with that, I’ll leave you tonight. Stay tuned Monday for a bigger overview of what happened tonight, and how few people actually decided they wanted a say in charting the course of the city and school district.

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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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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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Dallas electionsFourteen Dallas City Council seats and three Dallas Independent School District trustee seats are up for grabs on May 6. I’ll start saying this early — as I always do: It can cost somewhere around $1 million to hold an election, and in most May Dallas elections, we see less than 10 percent of voters turning out to vote.

And it really couldn’t be much easier. Check and see if you’re registered to vote here.  If you’re not, you can click here to register. If you vote early, you can vote at any early voting polling location in the county – so on your way to work, during your lunch break, on your way home, or even on a Saturday. The last day to register to vote is April 6. Early voting begins April 24 and will continue through May 2 for all Dallas elections.

The last day to register to vote is April 6. Early voting begins April 24 and will continue through May 2. You can even vote on a Saturday or a Sunday.

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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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