By HAROLD HOGUE
As a former educator, homeowner and father of young children, it’s been a priority for me to remain active in the Dallas Independent School District. That’s why I leapt at the chance to serve on the Dallas ISD Bond Steering Committee last year – a bond is a long-term investment that will last well into my kids’ academic career.
I realize it’s a privilege to have been able to sit on this committee. Meetings occurred during the day in the district’s headquarters in North Dallas. (The district could have done a better job of making these meetings more accessible.) And while I was proud to bring an educational background to the proceedings, I also recognize my perspective is not entirely reflective of current Dallas ISD parents.
That’s why I was reassured to see a representative cross section of the Dallas community serving alongside me on the Facilities Subcommittee. More importantly, it quickly became clear we would not merely serve as a rubber stamp for district staff but were expected to make major decisions in the best interest of all our kids.
Those decisions were incredibly difficult. There is major need and very limited resources. The proposed $3.7 billion bond is the largest in Texas history. It’s also less than two thirds of the total facilities needs identified in the district’s 2018 Long Range Master Plan.
Before last fall, I probably would have assumed $3.7 billion would net us a lot of beautiful new buildings. But what I learned on the Dallas ISD Bond Steering Committee is that some of our HVAC systems are being held together by duct tape. Some of our campuses aren’t accessible to students with disabilities. Some of our school buildings aren’t even up to code.
In spite of all this, the initial proposal that reached our subcommittee contained a great deal of new campuses and athletic facilities. Even as a former Division I athlete, it seemed excessive in the face of a school building without a wheelchair ramp. And, to the credit of both my fellow committee members and the district’s staff, that initial proposal eventually changed as a result of our input.
We came to a collective commitment to try and touch every campus. Rather than build a handful of sleek, new buildings, we would ensure every existing building is safe for our kids and families and teachers. This is what Dallas ISD Ballot Propositions A-E will accomplish.
That’s why I hope that you’ll join me in voting “FOR” these propositions at the end of your November ballot. Our kids need it. We have an opportunity to put new dollars and additional resources into our public school system, all without an increased cost to Dallas taxpayers.
I also hope you’ll continue to stay engaged. By visiting dallasvotes4kids.com/props-explained, you can see exactly how much your neighborhood campus will receive and what that money is going towards. I plan to work with my trustee and local community organizations to hold the district accountable to do the work they have laid out and you can do the same. Ultimately, this bond is a small, but important, part of a much larger puzzle. There is still a lot of work to be done to ensure the best future for our kids.
Harold Hogue is the managing partner at CoSpero Consulting and member of the Dallas ISD Citizens Bond Steering Committee.