To Close, to Consolidate, or to Improve - DISD Trustees Discuss Appropriate Policy

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Our Dallas ISD trustees have to make an endless amount of decisions. Some involve cumbersome research and discussion, while others seem fleeting and undemanding. Whether it’s how to measure teacher effectiveness or approving gifts from Donors Choose - the items that make it to the Board table cover a wide spectrum.

In 2011, one of the toughest proposals that made it to the nine decision-makers for approval was a decision to close 11 campuses. In response to state budget cuts, trustees and Dallas ISD administration pointed to the notable financial savings if campuses were consolidated. With extensive discussion around what response to take, the debate begged the question: Should there be defined criteria before trustees discuss closing a campus? Ultimately, the vote to close 11 campuses in January 2012 is still debated today because criteria was unclear.

Fast-forward to the 2017 November Board Briefing, trustees discussed a proposal to the original policy titled CT Local, which presents the idea of using defined metrics when considering a school for closure or consolidation. The sponsor of the policy proposal was Trustee Edwin Flores (District 1), who recaps the draft of the policy for his peers to review in the following video clip:

 Prior to reviewing the draft of Trustee Flores's proposal at the briefing, Policy Chair Trustee Lew Blackburn (District 5) and Dallas ISD administrator Scott Layne, (Deputy Superintendent of Operations and Chief Operating Officer) worked on possible language for the revisions. After reviewing and approving the policy, Trustee Flores brought his presentation to the rest of the board as a means of discussing possible modifications prior to taking any further action. Below, President Dan Micciche confirms with Mr. Layne and Dr. Blackburn that they are ready to present the draft and gather thoughts from other trustees.

 

As can be seen in the clip, the policy would entail that Dallas ISD administration present a report each year to the board depicting how each school is doing in relation to the metrics described - school performance, school enrollment, and building condition. However, the phrasing in the policy indicated that if a school does not meet the criteria, it would be up for closure or consolidation. Trustees found consensus that those two options should not be central to the intent of the policy.

Trustee Dustin Marshall (District 2) contributes his idea that the policy could help the administration and the board identify under-resourced schools to help the campus improve, rather than just consider for closing or consolidating:

Trustee Audrey Pinkerton (District 7) agreed with Trustee Marshall and suggested adding alternative language to the policy that could help schools meet the minimum standard:

Dallas ISD administrator Stephanie Elizalde, Chief of School Leadership, and board president, Trustee Micciche (District 3), also agree on changing the language to highlight the needed priority of developing schools, as opposed to just closing or consolidating:

In addition, Trustee Bernadette Nutall (District 9), Trustee Joyce Foreman (District  6), and Trustee Miguel Solis (District 8) request that the policy chair Dr. Blackburn and the policy sponsor Dr. Flores take a moment to shelve the policy until the language is further developed:

While there is no pressing timeline to bring the policy back to the board table, seeing the consensus between our Dallas ISD Board of Trustees was uplifting in the midst of one of the more complex decisions our elected officials must make.

To reach out to Trustees, view the entire meeting online, or to look up documents from the meeting agendas, please visit the Dallas ISD School Board webpage