The Dallas Independent School District sent word earlier this afternoon: It is splitting the mammoth Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Center on E. Eighth Street into two schools -- one devoted to humanities; the other, arts and science. The six magnets housed within Townview, among them the TAG Magnet, the School of Science and Engineering and the School of Government and Law, will remain. But five of Townview's seven principals will not.
As of last week's budget-reduction plan, DISD planned to cut 49 teachers from Townview, reducing the number of full-timers from 179 to 130. Says the district's release, which follows in full, eliminating five principals will "reduce administrative costs with the savings applied to keep teachers at the magnet center, thereby maintaining quality programs and leaving each of the magnets intact as much as possible."
Says DISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa, who made the call, "What is most important for the parents of current and incoming students to understand is that the Dallas Independent School District is doing everything possible to maintain our current standard of quality at our magnet schools, and, for that matter, all schools."
DISD spokesman Jon Dahlander tells Unfair Park this afternoon that this proposal -- which he'd learned about late last week -- does not need to go before the board; it is, he says, a done deal due to take effect next school year. "The board has been notified," Dahlander says, "and this has been discussed with individual members of the board. Staffing guidelines, yes, that's something that goes before the board. But in this case, the superintendent has the authority to make those changes."
Dahlander says the district doesn't yet know who will named principals of the two new schools; six of Townviews principals have applied for the slots. And those who do not remain, he says, will be placed elsewhere in the district -- because, if you'll recall, DISD actually needs to add back 16 principals since too many took the $10,000 buyout offers a few weeks ago. And there are new campuses opening next school year that will also need principals.
"Obviously one each one of these campuses, the kids and parents have grown close to these principals, and they've all made Townview what it is -- an incredible school. That's why it's the envy of other schools around the country. So there will be a bit of a gap there that we run into. But we know that more than likely, the two principals who will be selected for the School of Arts and Science and the School of Humanities will come from Townview already, so they will be familiar with those schools and those students. And we hope those who aren't selected will stay on with us, because they are tremendous. And they will be successful wherever they go."
Dahlander also points out: There are, he says, 2,361 students at Townview -- which isn't far off from the 2,212 at Sunset and the 2,173 enrolled at W.T. White. And those schools have but one principal each.
"So when you look at Townview having seven, you realize, well, maybe if we made some changes, perhaps we can save some teaching positions and get us in those federal comparability guidelines. We'd love to keep Townview the way it is, but the magnets will stay intact, and we'll try to maintain the quality each of those has been known for."
From the district:
Superintendent Michael Hinojosa today announced a restructuring of operations at the district's acclaimed Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Center that will begin at the start of the 2011‑12 school year.
The school, which currently houses six nationally recognized magnet schools, will be split into two separate schools -- one for humanities and the other for arts and sciences -- with three magnet schools assigned to each.
The move will help the school meet federal comparability guidelines. It will also reduce administrative costs with the savings applied to keep teachers at the magnet center, thereby maintaining quality programs and leaving each of the magnets intact as much as possible.
"From the outset of this unprecedented budget crisis, we have been concerned about maintaining our standards of service, particularly in our world‑class magnet schools," said Hinojosa. "This plan will eliminate the need to have 7 principals on the same campus and reduce that number to two. The funds that this will free up will allow us to keep more teachers at this outstanding campus."
Each of the six magnet schools will maintain its organizational code/PEIMS number with the Texas Education Agency. The executive principal, as well as the six magnet principals, will have the first opportunity to apply for the two new principal positions at Townview, as well as the other open principal positions within the district.
"The principals at each of these schools are clearly at the top of their profession and their results speak for themselves. They have helped make the Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Center what it is," said Hinojosa. "We are hopeful and confident that each of them will continue to provide leadership to the district as principals."
The Schools for the Humanities and Schools for the Arts and Sciences will each have their own principal. As of today, the determination of which schools will be assigned to each has not been made.
"What is most important for the parents of current and incoming students to understand is that the Dallas Independent School District is doing everything possible to maintain our current standard of quality at our magnet schools, and, for that matter, all schools," said Hinojosa. "We would prefer not to have to make any changes but, given the current scenarios coming from the Texas Legislature and federal comparability requirements, we have little choice. We think we have put forward a solution that parents, teachers and students will appreciate in the long run. Make no mistake; however, we will still need help from the Texas Legislature to maintain the current services provided by our schools to students throughout the district."
The Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Center opened during the 1995‑96 school year with six magnets: the Talented and Gifted Magnet, School of Science and Engineering, School of Business and Management, School of Health Professions, Rosie M. Collins Sorrells School of Education and Social Services and Judge Barefoot Sanders Magnet Center for Public Service: Government, Law and Law Enforcement. The six schools routinely are recognized by national publications such as Newsweek and U.S. News and World Report, as well as being named Blue Ribbon Schools by the U.S. Department of Education.