Judge Approves Dallas County Schools' Payment Plan

Embattled Dallas County Schools received some good news Tuesday - court approval of DCS' plan to pay off more than $100 million in debt.

DCS is scheduled to close this year, as mandated by voters, but the ruling allows a penny ad valorem tax to be collected for another five to six years.

State District Judge Dale Tillery's decision means DCS can begin distributing its more than 1,500 school buses to school districts throughout Dallas, the biggest being DISD.

School officials argued - and the judge agreed - that the tax was needed to pay off much of DCS' debt, primarily caused by the agency's issuance of bonds that were hurt by DCS' financial collapse from inside corruption.

Without the tax extension, creditors holding those bonds would have gone after DCS' assets, the main one being its fleet of buses.

That would have been "devastating" for DISD and could have left scores of students stranded on street corners next school year, Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said last week during a hearing in Tillery's court.

Voters in November elected to begin shutting down DCS, which is scheduled to be finalized in July, after it was plagued by corruption, losing millions of tax dollars and triggering an ongoing FBI investigation which has resulted in two guilty pleas.

DCS' demise, after more than 100 years in existence, means DISD and other school districts will take on the responsibility of busing their students to class.

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