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  • Lori Kirkpatrick

Runoff, Recapture and Enrollment

While testifying in Austin before the Texas Commission on Public School Finance earlier this year, I heard a school superintendent recall an elementary student say to him, “It’s not rocket surgery!” This has become one of my favorite sayings.

Recently, we have seen a number of individuals with school-aged children running for DISD Trustee who send their children to private school. As some of you know, the District 9 Trustee election has gone to a runoff and Trustee Bernadette Nutall’s opponent, Justin Henry, has a daughter who attends a private school. Now, some people might argue that a parent should decide what is best for their child. I don’t disagree with this. However, if someone makes the decision to run for school board of the public school system, where they will be making policy decisions for my child who attends public school, they should absolutely send their child to public school. What does it say about their view of DISD if they won’t send their own child to a DISD school? DISD’s biggest problem right now is low enrollment. Why should we vote for someone for school board who is actually contributing to this problem?

You have probably heard that DISD will be in recapture beginning the 2018-19 school year. What that means is that a portion of the property taxes you pay for DISD will be collected as such, but will not actually stay in DISD, instead they will be sent to the state of Texas. The combination of increased property valuations and declining enrollment, means DISD collects more money than it is allowed based on the state’s school funding formula. Thus, it is more important than ever to increase enrollment in DISD.

Declining enrollment has led the district to increased class size, layoffs of teachers, counselors and librarians, the closing of neighborhood schools, and the loss of the school community.

If you don’t think your neighborhood school is worthy, in Mr. Henry’s case that’s Lakewood Elementary, then my first thought is “Get in there and help make it better.” How better to understand the inner workings of the district than to be a parent in the district. By being a parent in the system you will have unquestionable perspective and ability to make positive change. Help build the community around the public school by being present with your child and lending your skills to those in the classroom whose parents can’t.

My second thought is, “What about one of the many choice schools DISD has to offer?” There’s single gender, STEAM, STEM, Montessori, TAG, Personalized Learning, International Baccalaureate, and dual language. DISD has worked hard to provide a plethora of options to every parent in the city. And if you truly believe in the power of public education, then stand shoulder to shoulder with us to fight for what’s right for every single child in Dallas, Texas.

We need public servants to once again lead by example. It’s not keen interest and desire from the dais that is going to increase enrollment in the district. It’s citizens like you and me standing up for public education and supporting our neighborhood school by enrolling our children. That’s it. It’s not rocket surgery.

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