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…)

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…)

Election

Voters lined up at the Oak Lawn library Election Day, with more than 400 people casting ballots by lunchtime (photo by Bethany Erickson)

Frisco, Richardson and Dallas ISD Pass Property Tax Increases

  • Allred bests Sessions in U.S. Rep. District 32 race
  • All four propositions on the ballot for Dallas ISD passed
  • Johnson beats Rinaldi, Johnson beats Luby Ryan
  • Carolyn King Arnold, Keyaira Saunders headed to a runoff

While Democrats came surprisingly (to many) close to winning statewide seats on Election Day, ultimately candidates came just short of besting the Republican party across the board in statewide races. How close were the races, despite the losses? In 16 years, Democratic candidates in statewide races have received 45 percent of the vote only twice — last night, nine of them did.

“Today is not a bad day,” Mike Collier, Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor, said Tuesday night. “We showed Texas that if you campaign on issues that Texans care about, you can have a strong showing in this state.”

But while the “Beto Effect” may not have bestowed a win on its namesake, it was still impacting races, with the El Paso congressman’s get out the vote effort being attributed to down-ballot flips in several congressional, state, and local races.

After record early voting, Election Day polling locations varied from “ghost towns,” as one poll greeter said, to steadily busy. Turnout increased as schools let out, and as people got off work, volunteers said.

Election Day

After a bit of turmoil during early voting, the Lakeside Activity Center in Mesquite was actually calm and congenial Election Day.

Measures for 13-cent Tax Ratification Elections passed in both Richardson ISD and Dallas ISD. Frisco ISD voters approved a 13-cent tax swap that will move 13 cents from the debt service column to the maintenance and operations column.   (more…)

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.

(more…)

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…)