DISD Announces Members Of Its First-Ever "Citizens Budget Review Commission"

charlesgrodin.jpg
Sadly, Murray Blum was not available to trim DISD's budget.
Two weeks back we noted that at least one person had already been appointed to the Dallas Independent School District's first-ever Citizens Budget Review Commission: Dallas Friends of Public Education's Mike MacNaughton. The commission, made up of trustee appointees, was a board brainstorm in an effort to find fresh eyes to pare down the district's 2011-12 budget that could be gutted by some $87 million or so, at least according to the latest guesstimate. My wife says DISD's "pulling a Dave," which'll make sense after you watch this. Anyway.

DISD Jon Dahlander sends word that the commission's done been commissioned, and the release that follows names all 10 members. They are, in no particular order: MacNaughton, Louisa Meyer (a name familiar to most local blog readers), Townview dad Jim Kipp, attorney Kenneth E. Walker, Warren Westmoreland, Jose Hernandez, Realtor Debbie Sherrington, Andrew Newman (who I believe is also an attorney) and Todd Williams, an attorney who helped raise the money for the building of Uplift Education's Williams Preparatory and is a noted district cheerleader.

DISD parent and real-estater Phil Montgomery -- who's also the chair of Uplift Education's board and served on Dallas Achieves -- is Superintendent Michael Hinojosa's appointee and will serve as the commission's chair. It begins meeting Monday and is supposed to get together "nearly every Monday until its work is completed," says the lengthy release, which follows in full.

Adds trustee Edwin Flores: "With a budget that could be anywhere from $76 million to $210 million less than last year's district budget, the commission's work will be helpful to both the administration and trustees. Because of the frequency of their meetings and their single charge, they will provide a fair and objective perspective from the community that will create a budget to meet the needs of all students in the district."
CITIZENS BUDGET REVIEW COMMISSION APPOINTED
Will Provide Feedback During Creation of the 2011-12 Budget

A ten-member commission has been appointed to review and provide feedback during the creation of the 2011-12 Dallas ISD budget.

The first-ever Citizens Budget Review Commission, made up of individuals appointed by the Dallas ISD board of trustees and the superintendent, will meet nearly every Monday until its work is completed, with its first meeting scheduled for Monday, March 21.

"This commission was formed to create a transparent budget process with citizen participation," said Superintendent of Schools Michael Hinojosa. "The development of any school year's budget is challenging but this year's process will be especially complex because of the expected decrease in revenue from the state. Their assistance will be helpful."

The chairman of the commission, appointed by Dr. Hinojosa, will be former Dallas ISD parent Philip Montgomery, a Dallas businessman with a long history of supporting the district. Other commission members, each appointed by a member of the board, include Jose Hernandez, Jim Kipp, Michael MacNaughton, Louisa Meyer, Debbie Sherrington, Andrew Newman, Kenneth E. Walker, Warren Westmoreland and Todd Williams.

"This group of citizens brings a wealth of experience and I am pleased that they will be able to take a deep dive into the district's budget," said District 9 trustee Bernadette Nutall. "As trustees, we will be very interested in their work."

"With a budget that could be anywhere from $76 million to $210 million less than last year's district budget, the commission's work will be helpful to both the administration and trustees," said District 1 trustee Edwin Flores. "Because of the frequency of their meetings and their single charge, they will provide a fair and objective perspective from the community that will create a budget to meet the needs of all students in the district."

Mr. Montgomery helped lead the 1985 Dallas ISD bond campaign, created and chaired the first advisory committee for the TAG Magnet and served on the Dallas Achieves Commission. He also oversaw the creation and growth of the Texas High School Project, served as a trustee for the Communities Foundation of Texas, which provided numerous grants to the district and has been appointed by two governors to serve on the board for two agencies, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Texas Turnpike Authority. He currently serves as the Chairman of the Board for UPLIFT Education.

"It is an honor to be asked to help the district in a very difficult budget year," said Montgomery. "I look forward to working with the commission to keep our efforts focused on student achievement. I understand and recognize that the superintendent and board will have to make some tough decisions at the end of the budget process."

The commission's first meeting is set for Monday, March 21 at 5 p.m. in Room 105 of the district's administration building.

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Todd Williams
Todd Williams

I was forwarded this article and found the comments interesting to say the least. I have been a DISD taxpayer for the last decade and graduated from Bryan Adams in 1978; whatever little success I've had in life, I owe much to the terrific public education I received from some great teachers at Robert T. Hill, WH Gaston and Bryan Adams. I am strongly committed to any child in Dallas receiving the same quality public education that I was fortunate to receive. I look forward to trying to be at least somewhat helpful to this commission and to Ms. Nutall who nominated me; if anyone would like to reach out to me directly with helpful thoughts, they should feel free to do so at williamsdisdbudget@gmail.com.

FrogGiggin'
FrogGiggin'

Dallas Achieves was formed as a steering committee for Hinojosa and his pond of Broad Toads. He chose them and many not only did not have kids in DISD but they did not live in nor pay taxes in DISD. They were not elected but were defacto policy makers and made recommendations to the BoT which gained rubber stamp approval .Hinojosa blamed DA for the hole blown in the budget previously. He now willl have a new crowd to blame. This budget commission will be rubber stamping the administration's budget. Alan King all but said so when asked what was their charge. Only two or three members will really stand up for students and teachers, and quite frankly none will have the time, stamina nor the intestinal fortitude to raise a stink and be demanding enough to make much of a difference. They will get along, play nice, greet each other with kisses and hugs then proceed to screw the taxpayers, students, and campus employees. Not even MacNaughton or Kipp will be able to resist having their heads turned by the lure of Goldman Sachs and Real Estate Big Business types. As admirable as they are, neither has the history or the inside info to knoow where the dollars are stashed or what programs and departments need to be dissolved before our campuses are touched. Perhaps they can put the educatiion of all students ahead of magnets. Maybe if given a way to contact the budget commissioners, the public will respond. I don't think that was the idea. DFPE is trying to get input, but if the commissioner's emails were full or phones were ringing constantly, it would make a bigger splash in the pond.

Michael MacNaughton
Michael MacNaughton

My email is mike@dfpe.org and my cell phone is 214-564-5316

DFPE will also present an update of the March 21 Budget Commission meeting on Tuesday evening March 22:

http://www.dfpe.org/evites/DFP...

Come on down an talk to us.

Hitt Auditorium is on the second floor of Methodist just below the cafeteria - I do not believe there is a sign on the outside that will direct people to this site.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

You and Kipp are going to have to be really strong not to be swept up in the crowd surrounding you.

This is your chance to speak truth to power.Compromise is not in any way going to benefit the kids.

Good luck to you; stay strong in there!Channel protecttheclassroom.com!

Cliffhanger
Cliffhanger

I've worked with Jim Kipp on DISD causes before. He's good people.

LifeinOC
LifeinOC

Thanks for the contact info. Appreciate your willingness to listen. Now, how do we contact Montgomery and Williams? Through UPLIFT?

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Don't bother contacting Uplift; they aren't on that commission to help--they're there to protect their interests.

I'm not saying they're bad people, but it is what it is. Our trough of taxpayer cash, their desire for taxpayer cash.

1. Why do we keep forking over money to DISD only to see DISD hiring TFA? If TFA teachers have such great results. why not just pay our taxes to TFA and cut out all the worthless DISD crony/nepostism hires in HR, the AC program, and Professional Devel?

2. If Todd's ideas for education are so great*, why do we keeping forking money over to DISD, only to see DISD hand it over to Todd Williams? Why not just pay Todd Williams and cut out all the worthless DISD middlemen?

Why can't Dallas taxpayers choose someone better than DISD to maintain and manage public schools? Put TFA in charge of all the hiring and training. Give all the behavior problems to Todd. Put ANYONE ELSE in charge of the HVAC problems.

I am sick and tired of giving my money to an ineffective waste of space of a school board only to see same idiots dole out the cash to whomever they decide will benefit them most.

*Todd's big ideas only work bc the thugs don't apply. See, thugs are guaranteed a free public education, so some school has to put up with them. Naturally, the thugs tend to do nothing and drag scores down, making schools appear less effective. And no parent wants their kids on the same campus with the thugs bc kids on thug campuses learn less.

So why do Edwin and fellow board members leave the comprehensives at the mercy of thugs and slackers? Maybe to create the "need" for charters and other entities that will, in turn, support school board members with votes and campaign money that originally started out as taxpayer money?

trashtalk
trashtalk

Agreed with LifeinOC--Todd Williams shows up with his Goldman Sachs pedigree and half of Dallas wets themselves to get close enough instead of seeing a partner of those who should have gone to jail. Ask yourself why the economy is in decline and then ask yourself why you're on a committee with a man whose firm should have been RICO'd. Would you ask a drug peddler or heroin dealer to sort out the district finances? What's the difference--both sell trash and both are rolling in cash.Agreed wth LifeinOC--until citizens can innoculate themselves against money and titles and look at the conditions in their own school and work in their own self interests, nothing changes. Look at what the official leadership has brought this city--a failing school system where they all feed at the trough. Weren't these same people called in after Hinojosa relied on them for advice and blew up the budget? Again, ask Cowen exactly where Todd Williams lives in Oak Cliff and where his children presently attend school in an Oak Cliff DISD school. Would that be Sunset? Or Adamson? Stockard?Where are those parents? Are they not crooked enough to serve on the panel, or would they expect actual change?

Bettyculbreath
Bettyculbreath

Maybe the last CFO left the budget in a better condition,to be understood than before he came.The DISD budget was not like most organizations,there were groups of money here and there,positions with no identification numbers or pay codes.To review that budget one would need to know how to read it ,and ask proper question of expenses and funding sources.

LaceyB
LaceyB

LOVE the "Dave" reference (Seen it 10k times)! Robert, the Wife's a smart cookie, FWIW. No way she's a DISD kid. But who'll play the other Hiney??

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Phil Montgomery-Dallas Achieves (the Citizens Council of Public Ed). Thanks to Dallas Achieves, taxpayers are still spending ba-jillions on the whole Road to Broad consultantcy package. A debacle. An expensive debacle. Your money.

Debbie Sherrington-realtor who listed Hinojosas' house when it was for sale. Close friends with Hinojosas. On the other hand, very, very involved DISD parent even before HInojosa arrived. Has worked tirelessly to make DISD a better district.

Louisa Meyer-Dallas Achieves. But another involved parent who put her money where her mouth is and made DISD work for her kids and many others. However, does DISD send her husband's law firm business? If so, that seems like a conflict to me.

Todd Williams-Charter promoter. Charters take our taxes and run alternate public schools. Pretty sure charter operators can set their own salary out of that taxpayer money.

Here's the thing with charters: they aren't better. They serve only kids who CHOOSE to attend them. Well, that's the crucial stroke of the pen right there--the parent/child signing up. Also, they are free from many of bureaucratic nonsense that kills regular DISD schools.

Just about any school with a motiviated student body and freedom from 3700 would succeed.We wouldn't need charters if DISD would just aggregate all the thugs and intentional non-learners on their own special campuses.

Mike MacNaughton-knows the budget well, but can he / will he be able to stand up to the Dallas Achieves people?

So we'll see what happens.Personally, I think our elected school board needs to drastically cut the fat in administration--we didn't elect this "commission".

trashtalk
trashtalk

Montgomery and Todd Williams run a charter organization where the taxpayers have no insight into the org chart or how much fat is at the top of that charter groups. It's a big secret on taxpayers' money. Why in the hell are they encouraged to have a role. They don't even tell the parents of their charters where the hell the money goes but they continually have their hands out asking for more.This is a list outside MacNaughton of the same people who have had a hand in causing fiscal burndowns. Meyer's husband receives money from bond buildouts.Taxpayers need to have some transparency regardng Uplift and how it runs its business before these clowns give their advice. Dallas Achieves cost the district taxpayers millions that were funneled into failing programs HInojosa couldn't even follow.

Why not use the parents who have children currently in these schools to get come insight into quality of facilities and leadership? Or does no one want to hear what parents actually think? This is the Dallas way of doing things. Keep the citizens out of having any real input.

Preston Holler
Preston Holler

Also, I thought Dallas Achieves was organized YEARS AGO to be the citizens watchdog on this type of stuff. Interesting that on their watch, this fiasco has happened. Now that they've fumble the ball on this, several members have been re-appointed to this. In short, they've screwed this up and now they will screw it up AGAIN and provide cover for the BoT. DON'T LET THEM GET AWAY WITH IT. KEEP THE PRESSURE ON THEM TO DO THEIR JOB.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

No, they weren't formed to be watchdogs.They were formed to call the shots to improve DISD from behind the scenes, a sort-of "here's what we business people want".

Since many (most?) of them didn't have kids in DISD, they thought that if we won the Broad Prize everyone would be impressed and companies would relocate here for the schools.

Plus, the Broad was going to cost millions of dollars, so it must be good, right?

I'm not sure their goal was to actually improve schools as much as it was to create the impression that schools were good.

No real private school parent would have fallen for it anyway.

I and a couple of parents and other teachers could fix this district in an hour. We all know what it would take; it isn't rocket science. There is a reason the BoT isn't fixing these schools.

PRESTON HOLLER
PRESTON HOLLER

Excellent run down DISD Teacher.

FWIW, oversight of the budget the BoT's responsiblity. They SHOULDN'T need independent oversight. THIS IS THEIR JOB. This is all a ploy to give them cover. Don't let them get away with it.

But as things are, looks like there is enough of people on this commission who cozy up to Hiney and the BoT to water down any recommendations. Then the BoT can water down any recommendations of the Commissions and viola, the BoT has cover to say "We had a blue ribbon Commission who made recommendations, we incorporated some of these. Everything is fine."

Bottom line. Put as much heat and pressure on this Commission. We all know what needs to be done. Make sure that the recommendation are completely over the top. That way, when the BoT waters them down, they are at least semi-in-the-right-direction.

MESSAGE TO THE COMMISSION -- DO NOT LET THE HINEY, FLORES, AND THE BOT OFF THE HOOK. YOU SCREW THIS UP, WE ARE GOING TO HOUND YOU TOO.

Michael MacNaughton
Michael MacNaughton

Dallas Friends of Public Education has been advocating public/taxpayer/parent involvement in all matters associated with DISD since DFPE was formed in September of 2009. We continue to believe that transparency at DISD (and all public entities that receive taxpayer funds) is mandatory. The members of the DFPE organization began collecting public suggestions for the board and the administration's consideration two weeks before DISD did the same on their web site. The Trustees have been supportive of our efforts to encourage public dialogue - something sorely lacking for many, many years at DISD. I have some hope that the establishment of the commission shows a willingness on the part of the administration to pay more than lip service to the public's needs and concerns regarding our children's education, we'll soon see. However, the bottom line is simple - this is YOUR school district. I will do my very best to communicate your suggestions to the board and administration and to report back to you with candor. Without your support and your voice and your presence at board meetings and briefings, the recommendations of the commission will be for naught - the commission has no legal power. The public has been granted a seat at the table, finally, let's hope we are not simply tossed scraps.

Max
Max

Good God, the Barbarians are at the gate. We must ward off these Tea Baggers, how dare they question our competence. Ohhh the horror, the horror, the horror... WEEEE are the educated bureaucrats, WEEE know what we're doing, why aren't these elected idiocrats protecting us from then Great Unwashed. Cue in Mel Brooks and fade with OHHH the horror, the horror, the Horror.... Woof Woof

LifeinOC
LifeinOC

Commissioners on parade Next Monday at Hitt Auditorium, Methodist Hospital. Wonder if there will be a warmup by Dalton Sherman.

trashtalk
trashtalk

So Eric Cowen recruited "Inside Job" Todd Williams. Wonder why he wants input for the finances for the school district from a former Goldman Sachs stooge.After screwing the world's economy, welcome to taxpayer funds. And it's not like Phil Montgomery's Dallas Achieves panel was not the source of the $85 million dollar deficit by their Broad choice of CFO and other chiefs.When will the Dallas board quit following the wishes of the Real Estate Council and developers and do their jobs? If Hinojosa can't remedy the budget crisis, exactly why is he being paid? If Cowen chose Todd Williams, where exactly in Oak Cliff does Williams live? Or is Cowen looking for future campaign donations or does he just follow around the big money? Disgusting.

MattL1
MattL1

I can't believe I wasn't appointed to this. I feel they're missing out on an important voice here.

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