Dallas district proposes closing or consolidating 22 schools
DALLAS (AP) — The Dallas school district has proposed shuttering or consolidating 22 campuses to manage declining enrollment as more students leave for charter schools.
The district has seen enrollment drop over the past few decades from 180,000 students to about 157,000, the Dallas Morning-News reported. Fifteen campuses identified in the Dallas Independent School District’s closure plan are located south of Interstate 30, where the district is losing the most students to charter schools.
About 34,500 students last school year lived in the district but attended a charter school. Nearly three out of four of those students lived in that southern area.
The long-range facilities plan drafted by district officials suggests demolishing 47 schools but replacing 25 of them.
The district may need to pitch a bond program to voters in 2021 to cover the costs of replacing and upgrading aging schools. Nearly 100 of the district’s 221 campuses are more than 60 years old.
The plan identified nearly $6 billion in needs for campus replacements, renovations, security upgrades and technology.
“In the end, we need to make the best decisions for the long term of Dallas about how we renovate and modernize our campuses,” said Superintendent Michael Hinojosa.
Some trustees on the district’s board have expressed reluctance to move forward with parts of the plan.
“Consolidating schools, changing boundaries are about as close as you can get to thermonuclear war in the school business,” said Edwin Flores, the board’s president.
Trustee Lew Blackburn said some suggestions don’t make sense, such as a campus move that would require students to cross major streets or even city commuter rail lines to get to school.
“We’re actually causing parents to take their child to a school further away from home,” Blackburn said. “And if they happen to pass by a charter school on the way, we’re going to lose kids.”
Information from: The Dallas Morning News, http://www.dallasnews.com