Education Funding

Dallas Voters OK $1.36 Billion Bond Package

By Michelle Galley — January 30, 2002 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Dallas voters this month approved a $1.36 billion bond package for school construction, the largest school bond measure ever passed in Texas, in a dramatic turn of fortune for a district long beleaguered by administrative turmoil.

Officials with the Dallas district, the nation’s 12th-largest public school system, said that the bond money would be used to update aging schools, construct new classrooms, and build more modern sports facilities. They don’t expect to break ground on any of the projects until early next year.

The bond package passed on Jan. 19 with an overwhelming majority—78 percent. Little more than a year ago, the 164,000-student district was in such upheaval that even its staunchest supporters doubted it could ever persuade voters to pass a bond measure. (“Vacuum at the Top Takes a Heavy Toll on Dallas Schools,” Dec. 13, 2000.)

In recent years, the Dallas district has been plagued by financial woes, a board that was mired in politics and infighting, and a revolving door of leadership. When Mike Moses took over as the superintendent of the district early last year, he was the district’s sixth top administrator in eight years.

Meanwhile, many of the district’s 218 schools desperately needed repair. The school system currently uses 1,912 portable classrooms, 74 of which are more than 40 years old. And some schools have up to 42 portables on their property, said district spokesman Donald J. Claxton.

Alliance/AFT, a local teachers’ union, conducted a survey of its 7,000 members in August 2000 that found that 73 percent of the district’s schools had leaking roofs.

Union officials, who supported the bond measure, made phone calls, posted yard signs, held media events, and informed their school representatives about the details of the bond package. They also asked the AFL-CIO, with which they are affiliated, to send letters to its members urging them to vote for the bond package.

“I liked to tell our members that it is our bond, that we have a responsibility to make sure that it passed,” said Aimee Bolander, the president of Alliance/AFT.

A Lower Profile

Observers say much of the credit for getting the bond sale approved belongs to Mr. Moses, who previously served as the Texas commissioner of education.

“Mike has established a sense of calm and worked hard to get the district off the front page of the newspaper,” said Donna Halstead, the president of the Dallas Citizens Council, a civic organization made up of 150 business leaders.

District officials plan to hire an administrator to oversee the use of the bonds, which will pay for 20 new schools and 640 added classrooms at 36 different schools. In addition, every school in the district will receive some level of repair, depending on its need, said Mr. Claxton.

Most observers appear to have faith that the superintendent will follow through on the construction. “I think we are in a totally different management era now, and I don’t have any concerns about this current superintendent at all,” Ms. Bolander said. “Just as he led us to the bond election, I think he will lead us to the building of new schools in a way we are all proud of.”

Last fall, Mr. Moses began working to raise public awareness about the problems the facilities in his district face. In a well- publicized event earlier this month, Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith visited the 1,600-student H. Grady Smith High School with Mr. Moses.

Mr. Smith “wanted to see firsthand what needed to be done,” Mr. Claxton said. School officials showed the football star the high school’s outdated boiler room and heating and cooling system, problems with the building’s roof, and two portable classrooms near the school.

Then he was taken to an athletic facility built in 1946 with a locker room that was only 20 feet long and 20 feet wide. “I think that was the most eye-opening thing Emmitt saw that day,” Mr. Claxton said. “You couldn’t fit five guys in pads in that room.”

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the January 30, 2002 edition of Education Week as Dallas Voters OK $1.36 Billion Bond Package

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Stronger Together: Integrating Social and Emotional Supports in an Equity-Based MTSS
Decades of research have shown that when schools implement evidence-based social and emotional supports and programming, academic achievement increases. The impact of these supports – particularly for students of color, students from low-income communities, English
Content provided by Illuminate Education
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Whole Child Approach to Supporting Positive Student Behavior 
To improve student behavior, it’s important to look at the root causes. Social-emotional learning may play a preventative role.

A whole child approach can proactively support positive student behaviors.

Join this webinar to learn how.
Content provided by Panorama
Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Why Retaining Education Leaders of Color Is Key for Student Success
Today, in the United States roughly 53 percent of our public school students are young people of color, while approximately 80 percent of the educators who lead their classrooms, schools, and districts are white. Racial

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Funding More Federal Aid Is Coming for Schools Struggling to Buy Food Due to Supply-Chain Crisis
The $1.5 billion USDA infusion is the second in several months to help schools purchase food amid shortages and price increases.
2 min read
Stacked Red Cafeteria trays in a nearly empty lunch room.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Education Funding School Districts Are Starting to Spend COVID Relief Funds. The Hard Part Is Deciding How
A new database shows districts' spending priorities for more than $122 billion in federal aid are all over the place.
8 min read
Educators delivering money.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Education Funding The Political Spotlight on Schools' COVID Relief Money Isn't Going Away
Politicians and researchers are among those scrutinizing the use and oversight of billions in pandemic education aid.
7 min read
Business man with brief case looking under a giant size bill (money).
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Education Funding Here's How Schools Can Use Federal COVID Aid to Solve Bus Driver and Other Transportation Woes
The Education Department outlines districts' options for using relief money to solve nationwide problems in getting kids to and from school.
2 min read
Students catch their bus near Ambridge Area Senior High School on the first day of Pennsylvania's mask mandate for K-12 schools and day care centers on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021, in Ambridge, Pa.
Students catch their bus near Ambridge Area Senior High School in Ambridge, Pa., earlier this year on the first day of Pennsylvania's mask mandate for K-12 schools.
Andrew Rush/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP