Dallas has scrubbed (and scraped) in preparation for today’s observance of the assassination of president John F. Kennedy 50 years ago. We’ve picked up the litter and hosed down the streets, dressed up our dignitaries and, no doubt, hidden the homeless.
Visiting journalists will report that Dallas is indeed a city of excellence.
DISD was most likely asked to keep the bad news to a minimum this week, so the release of the district financial report at Thursday’s Board Meeting was most likely viewed with trepidation.
But not to worry, as the report showed the district to be in “the best financial shape in recent years,” and that “ no overall material weaknesses or significant deficiencies” were found.
The district shows a fund balance of $263 million, a healthy contingency fund.
What the report doesn’t show is the fund balance was built on the backs of students and teachers. Administrators are shuffled around instead of being released, and new job titles, with presumably the same six figure salaries, are created for these folks, even though they apparently weren’t really needed in their old position. Class size waivers have been requested so that teachers can be released, and substitutes are used on a permanent basis to avoid the costs of hiring qualified teachers.
Dallas County Schools, the transportation provider for Dallas ISD, had on its agenda for the November meeting a budget amendment for $7 million. The note specified this was the result of DISD adding a significant number of routes that they are contracting out through a 3rd party.
I don’t see a corresponding budget amendment in the DISD Board Agendas. Are they waiting for the visitors to the Dallas Camelot to leave before they admit that the addition of vans to transport students, advertised as a “cost cutting” measure, is actually a $7 million expense that could have gone towards reducing class sizes and hiring qualified teachers?
Is this the same reasoning that last year led DISD to close 11 schools to save $11 million but this year ask trustees for $9 million to reopen one? That idea was pulled from November’s agenda; perhaps Mayor Rawlings asked that any controversy be avoided right now.
It is time to pull down the cardboard façade of Camelot and peek around the corners. There’s dirty laundry in DISD that needs to be hung out on the line.