Thanks to a Facebook page started by former State Rep. Allen Vaught, meetings with Dallas ISD trustee Mike Morath, and a growing groundswell of support, talk is picking up about Woodrow Wilson High School and it’s feeder campuses splintering from Dallas ISD to form their own school district.
It’s an interesting idea, one that would either create a sort of charter school district inside DISD, or secede from the district forever, depending on whom you’re asking. The complaints are as diverse as the proposed solution, but many families inside Lakewood are just fed up with the slow-moving bureaucracy at 3700 Ross Ave, one that Vaught wants to ditch completely.
Should this actually come to fruition, what would happen to the home values inside the Woodrow attendance boundaries and Lakewood as a whole? And what about homes surrounding the area?
“My personal opinion is that when Lakewood becomes it’s own entity, the children are the ones who will benefit,” said Scott Carlson, a Realtor who specializes in Lakewood real estate and East Dallas. “Absolutely property values in Lakewood will be protected and become stronger.”
Nancy Johnson, also an expert in Lakewood-area real estate and is the listing agent for 10 Nonesuch Road, agrees.
“I think it would have a positive affect,” Johnson said. “Of course many details would need answering but DISD has such a bad rap that I think localizing and separating from all the negativity would hopefully have some of the great affects the Park Cities have enjoyed.”
Of course, Park Cities home values have always held strong, thanks to the solid schools, and recently values have taken a turn upward. But there have been some side-effects. Increased density and over-crowded schools are growing problems for Highland Park ISD. As more people seek to live inside a higher-performing school district, builders tear down single-family homes to build duplexes and four-plexes, increasing the burden on campuses to make room for more children. It’s a double-edged sword, for sure.
And let’s not forget that with higher property values often comes higher taxes.
“As you are aware, Texas does not have a state income tax. Never the less, we make up for that in our property taxes — mostly the school part of the tax,” Carlson said. “It’s a ton of money and therefore brings a lot of problems.”
But would White Rock ISD, or Lakewood ISD, or whatever we’re calling this proposed school district, become financially independent? Or would Lakewood property tax dollars still end up in DISD coffers? It’s something that has to be thought out carefully. If the school district becomes financially independent, and results in skyrocketing property values and property taxes, then the district will likely become targeted for redistribution according to the state’s “Robin Hood” laws.
Still, Carlson feels that the district already has a great amount of autonomy and support from the community.
(Photo: Jenifer McNeil Baker)
“My thoughts are that Lakewood already operates on it’s own. What the parents and community has done for the Lakewood school district is extraordinary. A lot of families are moving to Lakewood primarily for the Lakewood school district,” Carlson said. As for support, there’s already a groundswell of that, thanks to the Lakewood Early Childhood PTA and their fundraising efforts.
“The upcoming Lakewood Home Festival, which is the weekend of the Nov. 8, shows how strong and financially viable Lakewood is,” Carlson said. “This being the oldest home tour in Dallas has set the standard for many other home tours. The focus and vision of the parents combined with their love for their children and community, grounded in the beauty of White Rock Lake and nature, is what has made Lakewood one of the BEST neighborhoods in America.”
And that is definitely catching on.