For the first time in its history, Dallas ISD has a long-range master plan and it’s filled with possible changes. After more than a year of research, the district is now discussing the possibility of demolishing 47 school buildings and building 25 new schools.
The district stressed that this plan is in its very early stages, but the possible changes are needed.
“And really, we’re just trying to get the discussion started,” said Scott Layne, the deputy superintendent for operations at Dallas ISD.
He said their new long-term master plan is a draft of a proposal to combat a decrease in student enrollment and an increase in aging campuses. Hawthorne Elementary is one example of an aging campus and it’s already scheduled to be re-built.
Out of Dallas ISD’s 221 campuses—99 of them are more than 60 years old.
“If you look at the national average, I believe 44 years is the national average for educational facilities. Our facilities average about 52 years,” Layne said.
So that’s why he’s proposing to demolish 47 school buildings, but they’ll only rebuild 25 of them because of their continual decrease in enrollment. With less and less kids coming to Dallas ISD, Layne said the district needs to consolidate while it continues to compete for students.
“Obviously the charter schools. We do compete with them and we feel like facilities is a big piece of that,” Layne said. “And if we can either renovate our facilities or build new ones to provide a more attractive environment for kids then possibly some of those kids would come back.”
Layne said keeping schools open—when they’re only half-full of students—just doesn’t make financial sense for the district.
“So what we’ve tried to do is look at it as a whole and see if there’s a more economical way to do it, but we’re also very sensitive to the communities and that’s why at this point it’s merely a concept and we’ll probably bring back some other ones as well,” Layne said.
This draft of Dallas ISD’s long-range master plan is the first step before lengthy discussions with the Trustees, the community, and the tax payers about how and if they want to improve Dallas ISD in this way.
The cost of this proposal will be at least several billion dollars depending on what buildings they finally decide to add and what other improvements are approved. Layne said they should have an official plan ready for the Trustees to review in the coming months, then in the 2021-2022 school year it could go to the voters to approve a bond issue to pay for the suggested improvements.