Does Downtown Dallas Need More Schools? How Can Dallas ISD Help?

Amid the hustle and bustle of a rejuvenated downtown Dallas, there’s something missing, says Downtown Dallas Inc. CEO Kourtny Garrett.Schools.“We find that people want to stay downtown, but we need to provide them the things that they need to have in order to do that,” she said.Garrett’s organization is trying to change that — and not just through cajoling or negotiating.On Dec. 19, Garrett’s organization submitted a proposal through Dallas ISD’s public school choice application process, asking to open a pre-kindergarten through eighth grade Montessori school in the city’s center.Their reason was simple: The demand is there.The district, though, isn’t as certain.For the past four years, DISD’s Office of Transformation and Innovation has thrown an open casting call for interested parties to submit plans for new campuses. The Public School Choice process has spawned some of the district’s best success stories, such as all-girls science and engineering elementary Solar Prep and Hulcy STEAM Middle school.According to the district, 26 teams were working on proposals for this year’s process, 19 of them redesigns of existing neighborhood schools. DISD’s budget allows for one start-up and two redesigns per school year.The bottom-up approach, created by former chiefs Mike Koprowski and Mohammed Choudhury, is rooted in the idea that educators will be more vested in the success of a school and more innovative in its implementation and operation if they are the creators of it.Garrett admits she’s coming at the process from a unique angle.“We’re a little bit different, in that we’re not coming at it as educators,” Garrett said. “But we definitely are smart planners and understand what neighborhoods need. So we’ve leaned on some great education resources to put the proposal together, and now it’s in. We’ll see where it takes us.”  Continue reading...

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