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Dallas ISD’s mission to save the district – Part Two: The aftermath

ROBYN H. JIMENEZ | 10/2/2017, 5:48 a.m.
Backlash aimed at three African American trustees revealed an unattractive side of local residents after the Aug. 18 Dallas ISD ...

The Dallas Examiner

Backlash aimed at three African American trustees revealed an unattractive side of local residents after the Aug. 18 Dallas ISD board meeting, when school trustees could not agree on which TRE option to place on an upcoming ballot and all options were voted down.

“Everybody wants to make it like the African American trustees voted against the TRE. We voted for two of the four options,” Trustee Bernadette Nutall insisted. “Trustee Flores voted for one of the four options. Who voted for the most? We voted for the tax swap, and then we voted for the 2 cent.”

She expressed that she and her fellow trustees Joyce Foreman and Dr. Lew Blackburn had been vilified through “fake news” in local mainstream publications for not voting for the more costly tax increases, saying that they are hurting African American children.

“We’ve gotten ugly emails. People have been flat out ugly,” she said. “It’s a vote. It doesn’t require you to be ugly. Jim Schultz, The Dallas Morning News, they’re just being real ugly about a vote when they’re not telling the whole truth.”

Blackburn, Nutall and Foreman felt it was laughable but insulting that they had been grouped together as a clique with Foreman as the group’s leader.

“I don’t think it’s any one of us leading the others,” Blackburn said. “It’s more of a collective thought. The three of us, and maybe some others, represent a large body of fairly poor people. Joyce represents the South East part of Oak Cliff. At one time that was considered to be somewhat of a middle-class area of town for African Americans, and in some pockets (it) still is, but in some pockets you have growing areas of that are not as well-to-do. And Bernadette represents South Dallas, where you still have a lot of poor people. I represent West Dallas and parts of Oakland going all the way down to Wilmer and Hutchins. We have a lot of poor people. So we start talking about raising taxes, our antenna goes up because we’re thinking about our poor kids whose parents are poor, whose neighborhoods are poor. And when you talk about food deserts and such in this part of town, how can you tax our poorest people and say it’s for the good of the kids? The three of us take that very seriously.”

A closer look at the vote

During separate interviews, the three trustees approached the subject of the TRE differently, yet still came to the same conclusion – similar to the meeting when the administration presented the 2 cent tax swap option to the board. Nutall, Foreman and Blackburn were the only supporters.

Foreman stated that she originally didn’t agree with any of the TRE options until Hinojosa approached her about the tax swap.

The tax swap would have taken a portion of the I&S and placed it in the M&O, and there would be zero tax added. The I&S tax rate is the “interest and sinking” that pays the district’s debt that finances its facilities. The M&O tax rate is the “maintenance and operations” that funds the every day operations of the district; such as payroll, supplies and materials. This would have provided the district with an additional $42 million for daily operations.