Dallas ISD Faces Summer of Important Issues to Address

From a historic bond proposal to TEA guidelines, there's a lot for board members to navigate this summer

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Dallas ISD has a lot on its plate right now.

From a historic bond proposal to confusion from the state on how schools can safely reopen this fall -- there's much to discuss at their board meeting scheduled for Thursday night at 6 p.m.

Click here to view the agenda.

Bond 2020

Board members plan to go over the second draft of the 2020 bond package, one of the largest in Texas history at $3.7 billion.

Two weeks ago, the board was introduced to the first draft of that bond proposal, which goes before voters for a planned vote in November.

Some updates have been added in the just last few months, including $20 million for new technology improvements to enhance internet connectivity for students and teachers working from home.

There's also money set aside for new and more efficient security technology on school campuses, including keyless exterior doors accessible by key card for students and staff.

The Bond 2020 proposal also includes more than $607 million for 10 new facilities, including:

  • a pre-K-12 campus downtown and another in midtown
  • a pre-K-eight STEM campus in the medical district
  • a pre-K-eight Montessori school in Pleasant Grove
  • a transformation school
  • a districtwide performing arts center
  • four career institutes

More than $1.9 billion in the proposed bond package is dedicated to renovating aging facilities and addressing infrastructure and architecture improvement. Based on board recommendations, the citizens bond steering committee updated the plan to designate $537 million to replace 14 aging schools.

The bond proposal also includes $41.3 million to build four school-community hubs in the Lincoln, H. Grady Spruce, L.G. Pinkston, and Franklin D. Roosevelt high school communities. 

Click here to learn more about the cost breakdown on Bond 2020.

TEA Guidance

Also on the board's minds right now is the guidance on reopening this fall from the Texas Education Agency that was supposed to come down this week, but never really did, according to Superintendent Michael Hinojosa.

He told NBC 5 this week that he was hoping for specifics on how they would operate safely, how to clean, or when to open and close. He said he's still in the dark following announcements from TEA on Tuesday that did not deliver as much information as school districts hoped for, Hinojosa said.

"I was on the call hoping to get, first of all, rules for how to get learning for at-home learning, I got part of that. I was hoping to get the rules of engagement of how we would operate safely in August. I didn't get any of that," he told NBC 5.

TEA did give an update on personal protective equipment that has been procured by the Governor’s Strike Force and the Texas Department of Emergency Management to help schools reopen safely next school year.

Texas Education Agency

Click here to read the full guidance posted on TEA's website.

DISD plans to start school Aug. 17. We asked the district if they would consider holding back the start of school, at least until TEA offers better guidance and support but was told they have no plans to adjust their start date.

"We have our rules. We're going to have masks, we're going to have shields, we're going to have plexiglass,” said Hinojosa. “As long as we have our plan and they don't supersede our plan, then I think we'll can ensure a significant degree of safety for our families.”

Operation Connectivity

Meantime, Superintendent Hinojosa plans to announce a number of updates, including a brief update on 'Operation Connectivity.'

That’s his project and mission to get Wi-Fi and access to internet into every home within the district by building a broadband network across the city for all DISD families, as well as providing mobile hotspots for students.

Dallas ranks number six in the country–and number one in Texas– of urban cities with families without fixed Internet access. The pandemic has dramatically increased the need for Internet.

The district said the project is still in motion and the next step is to complete a feasibility study to figure out logistics and cost.

Here's a timeline by the district on Operation Connectivity, announced in early May:

Dallas ISD

On another note, DISD is still busy feeding families through the pandemic.

So far, they've served 6.8 million meals to nearly half a million people since their grab-and-go meal service began.

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