This story in last week's paper served to remind us of what we've known for months: Sooner than later, the Dallas Independent School District's trustees would begin discussing closing campuses to make up for the second round of budget cuts, a guesstimated $30 million worth, due to hit in the 2012-'13 school year. As DISD spokeman Jon Dahlander put it in May, "there are a lot of decisions that come with shuttering a school, but to maximize efficiencies you need to have them. And it'll be difficult, but it's important to have them."
Thursday, that conversation begins in earnest: At 3:30 p.m. at 3700 Ross there will be a School Usage Ad Hoc Committee Meeting, and on the agenda you will see three topics of discussion: Demographics Study Update, Potential School Consolidations and the Review and Discussion of Board Policy CT (Local) Facilities Planning. The latter explains how and why the board can shutter a school, giving five very specific reasons and one far more vague explanation. It also says the board may create what's known as a School Utilization Task Force, which ...
... shall consider input from district personnel, PTA, local chambers, site-based decision-making teams, parents and students and review available demographic data, information concerning the physical condition of the schools, current and projected utilization data and such other information relevant to decisions concerning current and future use and possible closing of school facilities.
The policy was written two years ago, Dahlander says this afternoon, "because certain schools have had declining student enrollments, while there have been other parts of town where that's been completely the opposite. To try to manage our resources wisely, we're going to have to look at consolidating schools. It's been done before, and we'll start this process Thursday."
Oh, and while I had Dahlander on the phone, he wanted to mention this bit of very good news: The district managed to get 2,183 volunteer readers for Friday's 11-11-11 initiative. Very, very, very impressive.
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The board's school-closure policy follows.