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So, you probably feel like you should be keeping an eye on the school board meetings. But those meetings, you hear, can be marathon sessions of wrangling and hyperbole and you have a four-year-old to put to bed. You have sleeping to do. You have a life to live.

This is probably why I got so excited this weekend when I met with Melissa Higginbotham of Dallas Kids First, and she showed me the group’s latest endeavor – a school board vote tracker. The last school board meeting is already up and ready to go, complete with how your trustee voted on each item on the agenda, which items got moved from the consent agenda for more discussion, and whether the item passed. They’ve also taken the time to note certain measures they feel are important – usually ones that impact students and teachers.

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Dallas ISD trustees Edwin Flores and Mike Morath explain the proposed bond at a town hall meeting.

Dallas ISD trustees Edwin Flores and Mike Morath explain the proposed bond at a town hall meeting.

If Wednesday’s town hall in North Dallas was typical, trustees spent 60 percent of their time explaining the potential bond election, and 40 percent of their time explaining the superintendent search – despite the fact that the subject matter was prominently advertised.

More on that in a second.

Tomorrow at noon, the Dallas ISD board of trustees will vote on whether to place a bond election on the November 3 ballot. A first round of town hall meetings gave the district the chance to explain the ins and outs of the proposed bond, and a second round will happen to discuss the proposed projects the money raised from the issuance will cover.

It will likely be approved. According to the Dallas Morning News, Board president Eric Cowan and trustees Edwin Flores, Mike Morath, Nancy Bingham, and Dan Micciche have openly stated their support of the bond package. Micciche, in a Facebook post, further stated his position, saying, “I will vote ‘yes.’ We will have more community meetings to discuss the list of proposed projects over the next month if the full Board votes to call for the election.”

Sidebar: I asked a few folks on Twitter if this story would have a better chance of being a) more exciting and b) read all the way through if I included a fire-breathing dragon. So here is a fire-breathing dragon. Read further and there might be a cute kitten.

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Photo Courtesy DISD

Last March, the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees unanimously approved the bridge fund – a stop-gap measure aimed at taking funds out of the very healthy district surplus to address immediate needs on several campuses. During the debate, more than a couple of trustees said their vote came with a healthy amount of trust – trust that voters would remember their schools when the time came for a bond election.

Well, that time just may be coming. Dallas public schools have upwards of $1.8 billion in needed repairs, upgrades and deferred maintenance that must be addressed. Over the next few weeks, we will take a look at a detailed report of the district’s needs offered in this 2013 report by Parsons Environment & Infrastructure Group Inc.  In the meantime, the district is also conducting a series of town hall meetings to allow voters to educate themselves about the possible bond program, as well as what exactly it will address. You can also poke around on this site to see the various reports the Future Facilities Task Force has made to the board.

The next meeting will be Wednesday, August 19, at 6 p.m. at the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce, 10707 Preston Road, Dallas. Trustees Edwin Flores and Mike Morath will be on hand to answer questions and explain the potential program.

Photo by Bethany Erickson

Photo by Bethany Erickson

Did you know it costs somewhere in the neighborhood of one million dollars – $1 million of our tax dollars – for Dallas ISD’s portion of a May election? And did you know next to nobody votes in May elections?

Because it’s true.

That being said, it is ridiculously easy to vote (provided you have a photo ID and are actually a registered voter). Early voting begins April 27 and goes until May 5 and you can vote anywhere in the city during that time. For real. Anywhere. You can vote on your way to work, during your lunch hour, on your way to the gym, between clients. Or you can wait and vote on Election Day – May 9, at your specific polling place. You and well, four of your neighbors because again, nobody votes in the $1 million dollar school board election that happens in May.

Again, $1 million dollars. One. Million. Dollars.

Feel you don’t know enough about the candidates and issues to vote? Well, that’s why we are here. Beginning today, the Candy’s Dirt crew will begin breaking down the election for you (because in addition to DISD elections, there are also mayoral and city council elections happening), and pointing you to concise places to go to get more information about individual candidates.

But today we start with the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees races. Three districts – 1, 3, and 9 – are up, with incumbents Bernadette Nutall and Dan Micciche facing challengers, and Edwin Flores and Kyle Renard facing off for the seat from which Elizabeth Jones is retiring.

So first let me explain my methodology for coming up with this scoring system. Experience, I think, should be given some weight. So it is assigned a number value of one. Endorsements should matter too, so those are also given a value of 1. While it may not seem fair that incumbents have a head start, as you will see when I break down each district, if an incumbent is facing a favored challenger it doesn’t make a huge difference.

I considered six sets of endorsements in this system, largely because the organizations providing them have a regular history of endorsing candidates. Those endorsements are: The Dallas Morning News, Dallas Kids First, Educate Dallas, the NEA, Alliance AFT, and The Real Estate Council PAC. (more…)