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Tension Builds as New Dallas Superintendent Sells His Plan to Trustees

School board members criticize superintendent's plan

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    NEWSLETTERS

    There was tension between Dallas Independent School District trustees and new superintendent Mike Miles over his plan for the district. (Published Thursday, Jun 14, 2012)

    Incoming Dallas Superintendent Mike Miles faced grumbling from some trustees as he appeared at his first public school board meeting to sell his 2020 plan.

    Miles' plan was edited from an earlier plan that was in the works before he was hired, and Trustee Bernadette Nutall complained that details of how performance would be measured had been removed.

    "With this target Destination 2020, I don't know how to hold you accountable," she said.

    Miles said that too much detail would require long delays and could unnecessarily restrict getting things done at schools.

    "It's clear that there are some things that have to be changed," Miles said.

    New school board member Elizabeth Jones was not involved with writing the earlier plan but agreed that Miles' new one needs more work.

    "I'm having trouble myself," she said.

    Dallas Independent School District participation in the Commit education plan developed by Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings also came under fire.

    The program would unite all 15 school districts in Dallas County to seek support from state government and private foundations for improvements to reduce the county's high dropout rate.

    Trustee Carla Ranger said the plan would require resources that DISD should not commit.

    "I think that anything that dissipates our energy, our resources now, we should not be a part of," she said.

    Miles has met with Rawlings about the plan and has positively spoken about Commit as an example of community dedication to education improvements.

    "It definitely has the appearance of not being on the same page yet, because there's still a lot of questions," said Rena Honea, president of teacher's group Alliance AFT.

    "It sounds to me like a lot of the conversations have not taken place yet and until they do, we're going to see these bumps in the road," Honea said.

    Teachers said they are concerned about the upcoming DISD budget after massive layoffs last year and several years without pay raises.

    A DISD budget briefing Thursday made it clear that no raises would be included this year and many budget decisions will wait until Miles and all of his cabinet members are officially on the job.

    Miles is serving as a paid consultant until July when he starts working as superintendent full time.

    "I want to make sure we as a board are clear on expectations going forward because the situation is, we're not perfect yet," Trustee Mike Morath said.

    After the meeting, Miles said he is taking it all in stride and is still excited to be DISD superintendent. He also said there was progress on his 2020 plan, even if members want to see more refinements.

    "Some of that give-and-take is to be expected," he said. "I feel pretty positive about today."