From the Mailbag: You've Got Questions, People Who Know More Than We Have Answers

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Every so often, Friends of Unfair Park send in e-mails full of questions to which we only wish we knew the answers. And I'll send those queries to the experts. So, this morning, we tackle two topics pulled at random from the grab bag. First up ...

Friend of Unfair Park Wyatt asks: My neighbors and I are real curious about the status of the Katy Trail's march toward White Rock -- if and when it will ever bridge Mockingbird and make the connection. Do you have any insight you could share with Unfair Park?

I forwarded Wyatt's question to Willis Winters, assistant director of Parks and Rec, who handed it off to Michael Hellmann, Manager of Park Planning & Acquisitions for the Park and Recreation Department. He responds:
The Katy Trail project is moving forward, although it is being implemented in several phases that have different schedules. The section between U.S. 75 and Skillman is under construction now, with the exception of the pedestrian bridge over Mockingbird, which is in the final stages of design. The section between Skillman and the White Rock DART station has been put out to bid and is going through the process to award a construction contract. Look for construction to start on that section this summer.
Thanks, Michael. Next up: Many Friends of Unfair Park have asked: Given the Dallas ISD's budget problems courtesy the state $27-billion shortfall, why can't the district shutter schools? And why will it keep opening new ones, when the superintendent has threatened to lay off 3,100 on-campus employees and fill classrooms with upwards of 50 students at the secondary level?

Well, for that, of course, we turn to Jon Dahlander, DISD spokesman, who writes:
A few years ago, the board updated its policy on closing schools. It's a pretty involved process that takes months, including studying demographics and attendance zones, followed by public meetings. Closing one school creates a ripple effect that will obviously impact neighboring campuses.

On the other hand, the district is opening five schools next year that will have an impact on attendance zones with neighboring campuses. The work on creating new attendance zones for those schools has been ongoing for months, so any changes to those by closing other schools would add even more complexity. The idea of closing campuses is on the table to be discussed later this year by the board with the implementation set for 2012-13.

For the most part, the new schools opening this fall will provide enrollment relief for some campuses as well as provide students and teachers with updated facilities.

Regarding the figure of having to cut 3,100, please note that is the current projected campus employee figure, not all of which will be teachers. The current non-campus estimate of positions to be cut is 800.

Finally, we are hopeful that class-size ratios at the high school level don't reach the figures of 50-60. SB 468, filed by Sen. Shapiro, will hopefully give boards and superintendents flexibility to keep that from happening.
Anything else? Bring it.
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Yakuza_Fighter
Yakuza_Fighter

Mr. Wilonsky,

I would love a quarterly/semi-annual roundup on the current status of the "Eyesore Buildings".

1. The Union Planters building in Deep Ellum2. Statler Hilton3. The Old Dallas High Schooletc.

Also, the Burbank stop on the DART Green Line says "Future Love Field Connector". Are there any real plans for this or is it just a pipe dream?

Preston Holler
Preston Holler

Dahalnder says: "A few years ago, the board updated its policy on closing schools. It's a pretty involved process that takes months, including studying demographics and attendance zones, followed by public meetings. Closing one school creates a ripple effect that will obviously impact neighboring campuses."

Gimme a break. This is just blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

I DON'T CARE what the District did to it's policy a couple years ago. Hasn't Dahlander heard that it is now a "New Reality."

CHANGE the friggin' policy and shut down the schools.

To sum up: Hiney says that we have to have 60 kdis a class because it is the "New Reality." The old policy of having 25 kids a class has to go by the wayside because this is an emergency. Why can't we shut down schools? Well, that's against policy.

Gabe
Gabe

Assume that h(x) = f( g(x) ) , where both f and g are differentiable functions. If g(-1)=2, g'(-1)=3, and f'(2)=-4 , what is the value of h'(-1) ?

Holdonaminute
Holdonaminute

So declining enrollment, budget says no teachers or support staff for new schools, audit said better but still not using the money correctly, Sup says current secondary will have more in class = more grading, parent calls with less planning, no stipends unless athletics or band both of which are included in the school day and require no more night duty than an ELA teacher grading papers. We build new schools with bond money rather than supporting the rotting structures we have so we can have another bond election to build more schools because we let the others rot. I guess I don't have a question.

Jacob
Jacob

So is Project Pegasus dead?

cp
cp

Robert, why do this to yourself? For every two questions you answer, another 10 pop up. You'll never dig yourself out of the mailbag.

L_Streets
L_Streets

When will Mary Suhm finally fire the "Worst Boss in America," Fire Chief Eddy Burns Sr.? When can we fire Mary Suhm and what process does that take?

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

Ironically, by many standards, Mary Suhm could actually be "the worst boss in America."

Grassyass
Grassyass

Big Rob, please make this a monthly post. Gracias.

Publicintegrity
Publicintegrity

Wilonsky.....Please weigh in on the jwp fiasco. Other cities will now be using that video (as did Atlanta with Diane Ragsdale videos) to lobby against Dallas for conventions/games/events....

John_McKee
John_McKee

The Southwest Institute for Forensic Science on Stemmons was over a year behind schedule in July of 2010, with an expected move in date of July 30th. The $46M+ building appears to still sit almost completely empty with apparently no updates.

Are they just hoping we forget about the big expensive building on Stemmons?

Lakewoodhobo
Lakewoodhobo

1. Have any or all of the Trinity Lakes been killed or indefinitely postponed?2. What is the city's next building or restoration project at Fair Park? 3. What the hell is going on with the Mercantile Continental building and how does that timeline compare to the Atmos Lofts building?4. Any update on the Statler Hilton or the "Grand Ricchi"?

Amy S
Amy S

What is the city's current status on the attempt to privatize the Dallas Farmers Market. Have any candidates come forward to present a plan?

TravisDad
TravisDad

"For the most part..." WTF kind of answer is that? Former CFO Larry Throm said there were no new kids coming into the District AND that the district did not have the money to staff and operate 8 of the 12 new schools (4 schools are replacement schools).

Lakewooder
Lakewooder

When will we have an opportunity to elect a new County Commissioner?

Casey
Casey

Place 1 and 3 are on the presidential cycle. Place 2 and 4 are on the governors year. JWP is up in 2012.

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

I was wondering if we were going to get a JWP insertion into this blog. Maybe they're working on a bigger story?

Judge_Softy
Judge_Softy

I just hope yesterday's JWP meltdown didn't excite Schutze to the point of David Carradinesque climax (and that most final of all possible dénouements).

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Thats been my question concerning this issue, as the blog team has totally ignored the obvious big story in town. I have a feeling this maybe the beginning of the end for JWP..

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