An Early Look at "Repurposing" Plans for A. Maceo and North Dallas High Schools

Via The Past Whispers
Back to the Dallas Independent School District trustees' to-do list for Thursday ...

Like I said, lots of interesting stuff there, beginning at the top of the briefing agenda: "Discussion of 2010-2011 Repurposing Plans for Academically Unacceptable (AU4) Schools." That AU4 refers to schools that have been on the academically unacceptable for four straight years, of which there are two: A. Maceo Smith High School and North Dallas High School, as the Texas Education Agency reminded back in July. As mandated by the Texas Education Code, the district has to do something with those campuses, lest Commission of Education Robert Scott put them under someone else's control or order them shuttered further on down the line.

The district's still a good two years from having the state step in, but DISD wants to make the changes on both campuses regardless. And so begins the process of repurposing -- plans the board must approve before it's sent down to Austin for the TEA and Scott's OK.

For Smith, the district is proposing turning it into a so-called "New Tech High School," which is fast becoming all the rage in education reform. This has been Superintendent Michael Hinojosa's plan for A. Maceo since at least May, when he said he would apply for a $2 million grant. Says a PowerPoint prepared for Thursday's briefing, the new North Dallas would open next school year, be open to anyone in the district "per application and selection process," and it would a campus filled with "laptops and other technology for students to facilitate written essays, digital projects on web sites, power point presentations, photo essays, and other forms of technological presentations."

DISD spokesman Jon Dahlander tells Unfair Park that Smith's repurposing is "going to happen," and that trustee Lew Blackburn has been visiting other new tech highs to see what's what. But what of North Dallas High School?

Per the PowerPoint, at the beginning of the 2011-'12 school year, the 89-year-old school would begin its transition into a career academy. Says the PowerPoint, the district hopes to establish an Information Technology academy first, followed by one for Finance in 2012-'13. Then, in two years, DISD would put at North Dallas a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Academy, with an emphasis on robotics and engineering.

Says Dahlander, even if the TEA says in the spring that North Dallas is no longer academically unacceptable, the district still wants to make the change "because there are changes they want to make on campus, which is good. We have two, three years of wiggle room if the school performs at the same level [it is now], but we think these new plans will help the school."

One immediate concern involves the teachers, not the students: Per the plans, the new principal at A. Maceo Smith -- Brian Lusk, who came over from E.D. Walker Middle School last month -- "will interview for all new teaching positions on the campus for the 2011-2012 school year." Dahlander says teachers currently at A. Maceo Smith will be given the opportunity to interview for positions at the "new" Wilmer-Hutchins High School, scheduled to open next school year. North Dallas will also have to find new teachers in most instances.

The district wants to get early approval from Commissioner Scott in order to begin the changeovers. I asked Dahlander: What if the commissioner doesn't like the plan?

"That's not a question I could answer," he says. "But our experience has been if the agency does not sign off, they'll give us some reasons as to why and tell us, 'You need to tweak your application and so this and this and this.' They'll at least provide us some feedback. But it behooves us to inform the agency so they let us know what to do and work with us."

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i think there should be a state law that says expenditure per prisoner cannot excede expenditure per student. The state spends $18,000 per yr per prisoner and about $6000 per student.

El Coconut
El Coconut

How about a vocational ed high school? We need trades people with some skills. People are moving to Texas and will continue to do so for the forseeable future. We have a shortage and will continue to have a hard time finding; welders, pipe fitters, electricians, plumbers, sheet metal mechanics, structural iron workers. The lesser skilled trades; carpenters, laborers, masons, drywall mechanics and painters can be filled quickly with unskilled immigrant labor.


They want a whole high school to teach kids how to do PowerPoint presentations?


Actually North Dallas has a huge attendance zone and Uptown is only a small part of it:

I think the bulk of its students come from East Dallas, where the zone goes all the way to I-30.

There is very little if any "busing" in DISD. At least not the desegregation kind.

In any case all high schools are mandated to be redesigned and students from other attendance zones may apply for transfer to take classes not available at their home school. This fundamentally changes the way we should think about the so-called "comprehensive high schools". They will all have a "magnet" component.

Some high schools have taken the initative to formulate and implement their own redesign.

Given North Dallas Principal Dinnah Escanilla's hand in the redesign of Woodrow in the past few years as associate principal (it is now phasing in four college prep academies including International Baccalaureate and increased its college-accepted rate to 88%), I would give her a little time to reform the school before any other solution must be forced from the administration.


New Tech High is a decade-old idea. Hinojosa doesn't stay cutting edge. Someone brought him the idea because all his comprehensive high schools have major problems. The feds will pick up the bill on his failure of leadership.

Reconstitution needs to start at the top with an emptying out of Ross Avenue. The former principal of failing North Dallas was given a promotion and probable raise into central administration.

Only when the board reconstitutes the present administration by getting rid of the buffoon at the top will anything change.


Few, if any, students from the zoned area attend NDHS. I live in Uptown, and, our realtor didn't even mention the school. If there are even children, they're in private school.

NDHS-ers are bused in from all parts of Dallas, and are considered high-risk, both behaviorally, and as challenges for knowing the basics by the time they leave senior year.

What is truly sad is that there will be many talented and amazing teachers going. I've shared many a lunch break, and gained knowledge from these people, and it is the incoming students who will be the most at a loss.

Results-based (accounting-based) achievement has ruined the heart and soul of education, ripped all the fun out of it, and made the students aware of how they rank amongst a system that expects a certain population (them) to fail. The system has won.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Not only do we need to get rid of Hinojosa, we need to EXPOSE the school board members who vote for idiotic schemes that involve our tax dollars.

Then, we need to vote said board members out of office.

Finally, the public is waking up, thanks in large part to blogs and the financial meltdown.

This district could be excellent. Our own fellow citizens are the ones who are destroying our city from the inside out by looting the school district.

Thanks to Robert, also, for keeping readers updated regarding what DISD is doing!


While I don't disagree with your assessment of Results-based achievement, I have to differ with your opinions, the high one of NDHS teachers, and the low ones of its clients, local students. NDHS has struggled with failing teachers, quite a few burnouts, some of whom I've had to confront as an adult student advocate; they just weren't qualified to teach the subjects they present. As a result, there was a lot of focus on confrontation and accusations of students that we adults would simply not put up with; lawyers were called. As for the students, they are right there even if your veiled eyes can't see them from "Uptown", a neighborhood we made up just for folks like you. They are in the subsidized housing, they are in the East Dallas neighborhoods not two miles or two blocks away. Maybe you should get out more, or spend more time at NDHS, if it survives. They are correct to interview every single teacher.


Truer words...meanwhile, on the sidelines, the sharks are making billions off testing while little changes:


And a snow job it is with the media doing the same sleepwalking they did at the beginning of the Iraq invasion.

Los Politico
Los Politico

Actually the North Dallas attendance zone is huge and extends from the Elm Fork of the Trinity River near Texas Stadium to the Santa Fe Trail at Fitzhugh. The kids don't like in the West Village, but they are in the zone:

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