Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Michael Hinojosa gave a walk through tour of the new Oak Cliff High School Thursday.
“This is not easy taking on buildings that have been neglected and making them first class,” Hinojosa said.
But Hinojosa said Dallas ISD has been done that at South Oak Cliff High.
What originally was budget for roughly $18 million in renovations was eventually extended into a $52 million makeover. There were portions added on like the gymnasium where home games can now be played. Also, a state-of-the-art weight room.
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“The kids that go to Lancaster, DeSoto, and Duncanville and Cedar Hill this is what they have in their facilities,” Hinojosa said. “Our urban kids don’t have this. So, this will give us equal footing to be able to keep our kids.”
In the other part of the building, the courtyard will reflect the original brick look of the old school. Everything else has been renovated and upgraded.
“The furniture that’s in this classroom is the new furniture that we are going to have in the entire building,” Hinojosa pointed out. “Everything was done to improve the esthetics and performance of the students.”
Students were a big part in bringing about this change. Complaining about conditions inside, including leaking roofs, they staged a walkout in protest back in December 2015.
Hinojosa said he was determined to get this work done so those freshman, who are seniors now, could graduate from the school where they started.
Principal Dr. William Johnson describes the reaction of some student leaders who’ve already seen the changes.
“Tears, just joy, over joyed by just the opportunity to learn and to receive and education in an institution where they don’t have to fight for basic needs,” Johnson said.
The teachers move in Jan. 6, 2020. Students follow on Jan. 7, 2020.
Principal Johnson said since the students fought for this new building, he’s challenging them to step up their level of learning to match their environment.
“Now I am going to charge my staff and my students to raise their performance and be reflective of the expectations we’ve had, we fought for, now we have to exemplify,” Johnson said.
There will be an official ribbon cutting ceremony for the community and alumni on Jan. 11.