The other side of the story about the Dallas ISD 2015 Bond Proposal

2008 Bond vs. 2015 Bond

2008: A vote, a specific plan, real dollar amounts.  2015: None of that.

Not all bonds are created equal.  The last one had measurables tied to the dollar ask.  This one is a check with no strings attached.  Are you okay with that?

Not like the last time.  Why you should care:

You should care about how the bond plan was created because taxpayer money is limited and needs to be spent wisely.  Poor planning will not result in wise spending.

So let’s dive into some comparison between how the two bonds were put together…

2008 vs 2015:  Process & Equity

Overview:  The function of the two task forces were very different.  The one for the 2008 bond had autonomy & resources to make their own decisions.  The one formed in 2015 really didn’t.

So, when you see in promotional material references to “community members” and “community feedback,” here’s the other side to that story.

2008

  • Community meetings held earlier in the process
  • The Facilities Task Force set their own reviewing priorities based on Administration, community and Trustee feedback
  • Defined what equity looked like at the beginning of the process
    • They defined it as every student in DISD gets to attend a school that meets a set minimum standard for facility condition.
  • Good participation from task force members
  • Notes & attendance were kept for meetings
  • Members received data from other sources besides just the Administration, such as attendance trends and projections examined by a separate task force.

2015

  • Community meetings held after the plan was mostly developed
  • The priorities were set by the Administration before the task force met
  • No definition of equity
  • Low participation from task force members
    • Some felt there was no point because they did not believe they had a voice in the process.
    • Subcommittees that were formed never met
  • Notes & attendance were NOT kept 
  • Members did NOT get much input from outside sources.  
    • There was no separate task force for examining attendance trends or projections, despite frequent references in presentations to  the Board referencing capacity issues.
    • Dallas County property value projection data was generated by Dallas ISD.

2008 vs 2015:  The Plan Itself

First, a few comments on priorities:

  • If you believe fixing what we already have is a priority, you will be disappointed with this bond.
  • If you prefer the stated priorities of the proposal – Pre-K, school choice, career training programs (CTE) – you also may be disappointed

Why?  Because details about how those programs are going to be rolled out are very fuzzy.  It’s been my observation that when DISD gives just generalities, communities & taxpayers are almost always disappointed.  We envision specific programs and outcomes, and then don’t get what we expected.

If you love Pre-K, choice & CTE – demand specifics!  I think you should vote NO in November, and make DISD bring back a measurable, specific bond plan for those programs in May.  These programs deserve to be done well and done right.

2008

  • Members VOTED on the plan that was presented to the Board of Trustees
  • The plan was far more specific, because the goals and criteria were very specific
    • Capacity was specifically addressed with help from a separate task force
    • Community feedback was gathered earlier and considered
  • The recommendations clearly aligned to specified needs and projects

2015

  • Members did NOT get to vote on the proposal brought to the Board
  • Alignment of proposal to specific campus projects is vague with little detail given, and does NOT align with the Parsons Facility Condition Index (FCI) report.
  • Proposal is suppose to align with program and academic goals, but those goals are vague and not detailed publicly.
    • Example:  $35M in allocation to creating facility space for CTE programs at Spruce HS, Carter HS, Skyline HS, Lincoln HS, Conrad HS & South Oak Cliff HS.  It’s rumored the bulk of the money is actually going to Spruce, but who can say?  Where is the public document that itemizes the $35M?  It was not provided to the task force.  Communities that think a specific CTE program is going into their high school with this bond may be disappointed.
  • Although capacity, community feedback and maintenance issues are referenced often in presentation materials to the Board, documented specifics are lightest for these topics.
* This page is based on conversations I’ve had with folks from both task forces, and on documents that can be found on the Bond Documents page.