If she brings a buyer, Lynda Piepgras will donate 5 percent of her commission from the sale of this gorgeous Robert Elliott custom home to the Highland Park Education Foundation as part of a new charitable campaign.

Realtors are famous for their generosity, and they are constantly looking for new ways to lift up the communities they serve. And though commission donation programs are nothing new, we’re absolutely impressed with Lynda Piepgras’ idea to help meet the needs of school districts by contributing a percentage of sales. In fact, Piepgras is launching a program that will commit 5 percent of her commission to the school district in which the home resides. 

“I really wanted to give back to the great neighborhoods I work in, and this is just a no brainer,” Piepgras said. “It’s easy and supports education, our kids, and our teachers.”

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It’s officially back to school season! Store shelves are lined with pencils, pens, and notebooks. Children sport new backpacks. For many families, it may also be moving season. Top school districts are a major draw for families looking to relocate to nearby suburbs. For households not ready to buy a home in a new district, we’re highlighting some family-friendly apartment buildings in top Dallas-area school districts.

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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…)

great school districts

This home at 3041 Trinity Lane in Keller is priced at $539,000, which makes it a bargain if you’re looking for a family home in Southlake-Carroll ISD, listed as one of Niche’s great school districts.

It’s not unusual — many of the great school districts in the Dallas/Fort Worth area are also in the priciest cities and neighborhoods.

So when the website Niche advertised that it could help folks find the best schools in your metro area, we decided to take a gander at their list, and then go on a mission to locate the cheapest abode a family could expect to find among their top five districts.

The results are as follows.

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HightlandParkHS Jamie Ford

By now, you are probably aware of the contretemps that occurred when author Jamie Ford spoke at an assembly for freshman and sophomores at Highland Park High School as part of  the school’s annual LitFest. It’s been making the rounds on Facebook, CandysDirt.com, and the Dallas Morning News covered the story almost minutes after Ford posted remarks about his impressions of that assembly.

But just in case you don’t, the Cliff’s Notes version is this: Ford (whose book “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet,” which depicts life in internment camps during World War II, should be required reading for everyone) spoke to the underclassmen that day, and then was also scheduled to speak at an evening event and to conduct a writing workshop with students the next day.

From what I have ascertained by talking to several students, he began the discussion by taking a selfie of himself from the stage.

Everything after that, however, is a matter of perspective. First, we have Ford’s words, where he talks about how things were apparently going OK at first. Students even clapped and cheered as he shared stories. (more…)

University Park Contemporary 2941 University Blvd a

HGTV, are you paying attention? Not only do we have an incredible University Park contemporary for you, we’re pretty certain we have your next design stars.

John and Whitney Coke own this terrific two-story home at 2941 University Boulevard. It’s just across from Burleson Park and a few blocks from SMU. It didn’t look anything like this when they bought it, however. They have remodeled the original 1940 house to absolute perfection. (more…)

HightlandParkHS

Even Highland Park ISD scored a C in a category in the state’s new A through F ratings system.

It’s been about a week since Texas released its first “what-if” A through F grades for school districts and schools — a measure adopted by the last Texas legislature, ostensibly as a way to tell parents how their district and schools were doing.

And in that time, 219-and-counting school districts have adopted resolutions against it. Why? Largely because even typically high-performing schools are getting Ds and Fs in at least one of the categories that formed the overall grade. For instance, the Highland Park Independent School District, where nearly every kid goes to college and the overall tally of scholarship dollars earned by a graduating class is routinely worked into the commencement speeches, scored a C for postsecondary readiness.

Dallas ISD earned a B in the same category. In addition, the district earned a D in student performance and Bs in student progress and closing the achievement gaps between poor students and their peers. The district earned a B overall. (more…)

 

Southern Ave. IHOTW

We know you love getting a sneak peek at properties as much as we do, so we’re giving you an inside look at 4517 Southern Avenue in Highland Park today. Jason Couch with Epic Direct Realty is listing this gorgeous three-story, five-bedroom, six-bathroom, 5,766-square-foot Mediterranean on June 30 for $2.449 million. (more…)