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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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…)

Photo courtesy Flickr/Theresa Thompson

Photo courtesy Flickr/Theresa Thompson

Just five years ago, the Dallas Independent School District had to cancel elections for lack of interest. This year, a bumper crop of 12 candidates have chosen to run for four seats – and only one of those 12 is an incumbent.

People are taking Dallas ISD seriously these days. It’s an exciting time to be involved in making policy that will guide the district and a time that will require the board to really roll up their sleeves and get to work.

I’d love to tell you that every single race is being broached with, as my 5-year-old says, “kind words and kind hands.” But with stakes high and emotions higher, some of the races have gotten a little muddy, which is a shame. Hopefully, all involved can slough off the mud and put their dirt away in this home stretch, and reconfirm their resolve to do what is right for the kids, sticking to the issues.

Still, the passion I’ve seen for these unpaid positions is encouraging. It would be great if all that passion can be the start of some incredible community involvement in Dallas schools, regardless of who wins.

As I did in the last school board election, I will be breaking down each race and assigning a mathematical value to key endorsements for a final score. Because of the volume of candidates, I’ll be featuring one race a day through Sunday. Early voting begins Monday and lasts until May 3, with Election Day on May 7. For information on early voting, click here.

Today we will take a look at District 2, which is basically a misshapen doughnut that includes the Lakewood area, Preston Hollow, and the North Dallas High School feeder pattern (the hole would be the Park Cities).

Dustin Marshall, Suzanne Smith, Mita Havlick and Carlos Marroquin are vying for the seat left open after Mike Morath was tapped by Gov. Greg Abbott to become the new Texas Education Agency commissioner.

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. In this race, Alliance AFT did not endorse a candidate and there is no incumbent, so there will be a possible score of 5 (DMN, DKF, Educate Dallas, NEA, TREC). (more…)

Voters across the Dallas area will go to the polls on May 7 to elect trustees for districts 2, 4, 5, and 7. (Photo by iStock)

Voters across the Dallas area will go to the polls on May 7 to elect trustees for districts 2, 4, 5, and 7. (Photo by iStock)

Now that the date to file to run for a trustee seat in Dallas Independent Schools Board of Trustees has passed, I thought we could talk a bit about who is running, and how and when endorsements will begin to shake out.

First, the candidates. Districts 4, 5, and 7 are part of the general election. District 2 is a special election to fill the seat vacated by Mike Morath, who has been appointed by Governor Greg Abbott to helm the Texas Education Commission.  Election day for the school board will be May 7, with early voting from April 25 to May 3.

In District 2, Suzanne Smith, Mita Havlick and Dustin Marshall will vie for the vacant seat. In District 3, where current trustee Nancy Bingham announced she would not be running again, three people have filed to run – Omar Jimenez, Jaime Resendez and Camile White. Marquis Hawkins and Linda Wilkerson-Wynn will join incumbent Lew Blackburn in running for the District 5 seat, while Audrey Pinkerton and Isaac Faz are running for the District 7 seat currently held by board president Eric Cowan, who announced he would not seek another term. (more…)

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.

Evan Beattie

Beattie’s most notable current project is the M-Line Tower mixed-use development at 3230 McKinney Avenue. Construction is slated to begin this summer on a design that includes two restaurant tenants of 12,000 square feet facing McKinney, and a residential entry lobby, McKinney Avenue Transit Authority trolley storage, a museum, and office space on Bowen. All photos: Good Fulton + Farrell

Today, we bring you the inaugural column in a new ongoing series, Interview with an Architect. The goal is to speak with leading voices in the North Texas architecture community and learn about their work, development issues in our community, and good design practices and principals.

Evan Beattie

Evan Beattie

Evan BeattieAIA, LEED AP, is a Principal with Good Fulton & Farrell, Inc., an award-winning multi-disciplinary design firm based in Dallas. He’s been with them for 10 years, and was named one of Dallas Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 in 2013, as well as one of the “Top 20 Under 40 in Architecture, Engineering and Construction” by ENR Texas & Louisiana in 2011.

He earned his Bachelor’s of Architecture from the University of Texas at Austin and moved to Dallas in 2003. He currently lives in the Henderson Avenue area, where he organized fellow residents into the Henderson Neighborhood Association in 2009 to help them have a voice in the development of that fast-growing area. Beattie and his wife will move this summer to a new house he designed in the Urban Reserve neighborhood of sustainable modern homes just a few exits north on Central Expressway.

His work with Good Fulton & Farrell has included the Alta Henderson Apartments in Dallas; master planning for The Canyon in Oak Cliff in Dallas; and Fiori on Vitruvian Park in Addison. He is currently working on three projects adjacent to the Henderson Avenue area, two of which will be mixed-use developments in that neighborhood.

“It has been amazing to watch the pace of change in the urban core of our city these last 12 years, and the momentum just keeps growing for additional investment in urban revitalization and the creation of great public spaces and parks that make our city more livable,” Beattie said. Jump to read our interview!

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