Dallas ISD considers privatizing some public schools

The Dallas ISD school board will vote this week on a plan that could turn some schools over to private organizations.

Some are concerned that it would be a step toward privatizing public schools. The district argues that the plan would generate more money per student under a new state law. But since the money would go to private organizations, some are asking who would the money go to.

Dallas ISD school board trustees will decide Thursday if the district should allow private organizations to run some public schools.

“There are organizations on the list that have no experience or expertise in running a school,” said DISD Trustee Audrey Pinkerton.

Brian Lusk, chief of strategic initiatives for DISD, says the district is putting the proposal before board members because of a new state law. It allows districts to receive the same amount of state funding per student as charter school students receive. That's an extra $1,800 per student.

“The opportunity to do this is icing on the cake. Adds a value if the right opportunity comes along,” he said. “Our board of trustees, in the end, have authority over the governing body, should the policy be approved.”

But Pinkerton says according to sample contracts the district provided, ending the partnership with the outside organization would be tough. She points out the extra funding the district gets would be managed by a non-elected board.

“The district doesn't benefit from those extra dollars. The extra dollars go to the private operator,” she said. “And whether or not those dollars benefit the student depends on what the private operator does with them and how effective they are at running the schools.”

Rena Honea is president of the Dallas Alliance AFT. She feels a system that would give some schools more funding than others could create an unequal playing field.

“Are you creating a system of us against them? There will be students’ parents saying why are they getting all this money and we're not? We don 't get the same resources,” she said. “There's no equity in our education system in Dallas if this moves forward.”
If the proposal passes, the district does not yet know which schools may be turned over to private operators. There is also no limit on the number of schools could be run by a private appointed board.

Below is the full list of organizations that the district could consider as school operators:

  • ChildCareGroup
  • Head Start of Greater Dallas ISD
  • Mi Escuilita
  • American Care Academy
  • Aisha’s Learning Center
  • ALC Early Care and Education
  • Braswell Child Development
  • Bryan’s House aka Open Arms, Inc.
  • For Keep’s Sake, Inc.
  • Golden Minds Academy
  • Good Street Learning Center, Inc.
  • Heavenly Learning Center
  • Kids Concepts
  • Neighborhood Christian Learning Center of Dallas, Inc.
  • Pace and Ross Learning Center
  • Union Christian Academy
  • United Way
  • YMCA Dallas
  • Shelton School, Private School
  • Dallas Teacher Residency
  • Vickery Meadow Youth Development Foundation
  • Commit
  • Dallas County Community College District
  • 3DE / Junior Achievement
  • Yorktown Education, K-12 Private School
  • Alt Schools
  • Friends of Solar Prep
  • StrongMinds
  • Downtown Dallas INC
  • Big Thought
  • Southern Methodist University
  • UNT Dallas
  • Leadership ISD
  • Montessori In The Public Sector
  • UT Southwestern
  • Purpose Built Schools
  • Teaching Trust
  • CitySquare