The needs in DISD are many and the funds are limited. In a perfect world we would pay top salaries to employees, have state of the art schools and the most innovative technology in every classroom. But this is not a perfect world and balancing the needs of the District within the confines of the budget is always an issue. This year brings an additional challenge: DISD faces a huge deficit due to the loss of students to charter schools. There will surely be disagreements on the Board as to how to address this deficit, and that is why the next Trustee for District 4 needs to be experienced in negotiations and leadership.
DECLINING STUDENT POPULATION:
Many parents who can afford to have already abandoned DISD schools for private facilities, and charter schools continue to attract students in response to consumer demand for better educational opportunities. DISD has made significant strides in developing specialty schools and programs within existing schools to provide more individualized opportunities for students. We must continue to look for and implement ways to entice parents to send their kids to public schools, not because they are the only choice, but because they are the best choice.
Based on SAT or ACT scores, only 11% of DISD high school students are college-ready. Part of that can be attributed to the high rate of socio-economically disadvantaged students who start their educational careers far behind other students. The new full day Pre-K will help those kids, but we cannot ignore the students who are already in the K-12 system
We must dramatically increase the college-readiness rate by first motivating students to stay in school and to learn. Making school exciting and making kids aware of what an education can do for them will aid in that goal, but it is also imperative that parents participate in encouraging a learning environment at home. Additionally, DISD must provide good teachers at every grade level — teachers who not only know their subject matter but also are able to deliver that knowledge with enthusiasm and creativity.
The 2013 Parsons report, a commissioned study of DISD facilities showed that by 2020 more than $4 billion is needed for improvements. The bond election in 2015 only provided for $1.6 billion. It is highly unlikely that voters would approve either another bond election or a tax increase to meet the additional funding needs, so we must step back and take a hard look at all the facilities throughout the district. Some of our buildings are located in areas that are going through gentrification which increases their land value. The most cost-effective measure might be for DISD to divest itself of buildings in serious need of improvements in favor of newer or more consolidated options.