$52 Million Renovation to South Oak Cliff H.S. to Begin This Spring

Big improvements are coming to South Oak Cliff High School, but not in time for the new school year.

When students walk the halls Monday, they'll see the same aging ceiling and building in desperate need of repair.

A Dallas Independent School District spokesperson said crews did general maintenance work on the heating, ventilation and air conditioning units over the summer. They also fixed the air conditioning in the gym, but the big repairs won't start until spring.

South Oak Cliff parents and students have been fighting for improvements for two years.

"The whole process in the past was frustrating, but our future's great," said pastor Maxie Johnson, president of the school's parent-teacher organization.

Johnson also serves as president of the South Oak Cliff Parent Coalition. The group started voicing concerns in the summer of 2015 because of the school's deteriorating conditions.

From worries over possible contamination in the water fountains, to termites in the nurse's office, to leaks in the ceiling when it rains – the laundry list of problems kept growing.

"It's a lot of things – rats in our cafeteria. So it's really been a lot of issues that we have to deal with," said his daughter, Teilor Johnson, who helped lead the student push for change.

As a member of student group "Stand for SOC," she a helped organize a student protest in her junior year.

Now a senior, she and her father are both optimistic heading into the new school year.

"There's a synergy going on in the district and the South Oak Cliff community, and so we're working together. The children are excited about the new year. And we're just waiting to see what's going to happen, we're excited," Maxie Johnson said.

Last fall, the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees approved $52 million in 2015 bond money for the high school. It's slated to pay for about 20 items, including a new roof, plumbing, gymnasium, expansion of the cafeteria, and improvements to the outside, such as better parking.

"It's a lot of schools in the community that need work, and the fact that they took the time out to actually give us what we've been asking for, it feels great," Teilor Johnson said.

Renovations are expected to begin in January or February and last for at least 16 months.

During that time, students will go to the nearby alternative school, Village Fair. Students from Village Fair will be shifted to the Nolan Estes building on Beckley Avenue.

Since the changes won't be complete until after she graduates, Teilor Johnson won't see the changes for which she rallied, but she hopes futures classes will benefit.

"I'm gonna have a lot of pride about it. Very happy, I feel like I made a big impact on our students," she said.

"It takes everyone working together to achieve greatness," her father added.

Dallas ISD said the reason why it's taking so long to get started is the bond work has to go to bid for contracts and get approved in October. Once that happens, they'll have a clearer time line on repairs.

South Oak Cliff High School is just one project out of several from the 2015 bond issue. Many are going on now. Several Dallas campuses are either getting new schools or improvements. Dallas ISD said it could take five to seven years to complete everything on the list.

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