"A Catch-22": Medrano Sheds More Light on Uplift's Intention to Open Charter in Deep Ellum

Uplift_LaureatePrep_crest.jpeg
I warned you: Yesterday's item about Uplift Education's intention of opening a charter school in the old Baylor building in Deep Ellum was just the first of many to come. Here's the second, because yesterday I'd left a message for Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Pauline Medrano, in whose district Deep Ellum sits. I wanted to know if she intended to intervene -- and if so, on whose behalf. After all, as she reminds today, she has several Uplift schools in her district, and as she says, "I have a very good relationship with them."

So much so Uplift's CEO, Yasmin Bhatia, sent Medrano a missive today explaining their intentions, which Medrano has forwarded to Unfair Park. In her letter, Bhatia writes that the proposed Deep Ellum campus would be the secondary school for those kids currently attending the K-3 Laureate Preparatory in the West End. She writes:
We believe the additional 75+ jobs that this campus alone will bring to Deep Ellum is very positive as is the fact that our teaching force tends to be young, single professionals who will want to dine and likely live in/near Deep Ellum helping contribute to the growth of the community surrounding the school. ... We are not trying to be a "thorn in the side" of the property owners of Deep Ellum but would like to work collaboratively with [property and business owners] and believe that the school will be a positive asset to the Deep Ellum community.
That is just an excerpt from her letter, which you can read in full below. And Medrano is torn, because as much as she likes what Uplift does, she's also quite pleased with the progress Deep Ellum has made in recent years: "It's coming back, and people are bringing neat restaurants and live-music venues to Deep Ellum. And the DART line is bringing more and more folks who want to discover Deep Ellum -- and the [UNT] law school's coming with people in their mid-20s who will live downtown and who will discover places to eat and drink and have a good time. This is going to ..." She pauses. "I know the property owners are not happy."

Medrano says she drives through Deep Ellum, what, three, four times a week. She had lunch at Angry Dog just yesterday; sometimes, she says, she'll go to Twisted Root, St. Pete's, even Adair's. Depends. But after all the lean years, she says, the "new" Deep Ellum is something to behold.

And yet ...

"This really is a Catch-22," she says. "You want an education facility near downtown, but at the same time the Deep Ellum folks have made major investments, and I think the city and property owners have worked together and had a great partnership turning that area around. I have seen the change. They're more robust, they're making money, there are great venues, and we're not spending the type of money we were spending in terms of police by shutting down streets. The cruising isn't happening anymore. I feel for them."

She means the property owners, who could see their bars and alcohol-selling eateries profoundly affected by the city ordinance disallowing the sale of booze within 300 feet of a school -- property line to property line, as defined by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.. And though she can't attend, as she's got something else planned with Angela Hunt that night, Medrano reiterates: There will be a Monday-evening meeting at which Theresa O'Donnell, head of Sustainable Development, and other city officials will attempt to explain to business and property owners what Uplift's move into the neighborhood could mean. (It is, after all, allowed by right.)

The letter from Bhatia is below. You will note: It was sent to Medrano by Rosemary Perlmeter, Uplift's founder.
Pauline,

I am forwarding this for Yasmin Bhatia, the current CEO of Uplift Education . Please feel free to email us or to call me if you think we should talk. We appreciate any support or advice you can provide me.

Rosemary

Dear Councilwoman Medrano-

We have not had an opportunity yet to meet in-person since I have joined Uplift but I have heard from Rosemary and Teresa (who leads Peak Prep) what a wonderful advocate you have been for our Uplift schools. We are deeply appreciative of your support.

I understand that you have met with a few individuals from Deep Ellum regarding Uplift's new school in Dallas for next school year. We are very excited to open Laureate Prep's Secondary School which will continue our successful formal partnership with the Museum of Nature and Science. This partnership currently exists with Laureate Prep's Primary school located in the 30,000 square feet retail space on the first floor of the West End Parking Garage on Laws and Lamar. We are in the middle of final contract negotiations to purchase 2625 Elm Street to house Laureate Prep's Secondary School which will have grades 6-12 and at scale serve over 900 students.

We believe the additional 75+ jobs that this campus alone will bring to Deep Ellum is very positive as is the fact that our teaching force tends to be young, single professionals who will want to dine and likely live in/near Deep Ellum helping contribute to the growth of the community surrounding the school. We are also very supportive of the broader economic development plans for Deep Ellum and want to be a partner to the Community.

I shared this with Barry Annimo [sp], President of the Deep Ellum Foundation, when he and I met earlier this week.

I specifically shared with him that Uplift will be happy to issue a "no contest" letter to the City when there are specific establishments that the broader Deep Ellum community wants to open near the school that serve alcohol. What Mr. Annimo [sp] requested that I was not comfortable agreeing to was a broad sweeping "no contest" letter for any establishment within 300 feet of the school. As I hope you can appreciate that might cause undue risk to our organization. Again, I shared with Mr. Annimo [sp] multiple times that we are not trying to be a "thorn in the side" of the property owners of Deep Ellum but would like to work collaboratively with them and believe that the school will be a positive asset to the Deep Ellum community.

I hope it is useful to hear our direct position on this situation. Please feel free to reach out directly if you have any questions. Again many thanks for your continued support of our efforts to ensure 100% of our students are accepted into college!

-Yasmin Bhatia
CEO, Uplift Education

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78 comments
Sam851
Sam851

Now if Pauline Medrano would just shed a little more light on the Family Property Management Businesses former residents roll from which all those fraudulent and forged voter ballots are turned in every election.

 

Of course that would ruin the Medrano Mafia though.

Bendinglightstudio
Bendinglightstudio

They should open this school at the Womens Museum's old location at Fair Park. In fact, the State Fair should just move to Waco and the grounds converted to a large campus.

holman
holman

Like moving in under the flight path of Love Field, then giving the airport 24 hours to get outa town.

holman
holman

It works both ways.

Adult entertainment/liquor/bars cannot be within 300 feet of a school.  

The school will need a variance.  Not a chance.  DOA.  

variances require neighbor proximity approval.

Beerbelly
Beerbelly

My name id Lamar 'Beerbelly' Jefferson. I got ma edjucation in Deep Ellm. In Deep Ellm I learnt if you ax fer a quartr yu get nuthin but walked by. But I no if you ax fer 82 cent fo da bus yu getta dolla. I dint pass 8th graid but no iff'n you put a skool in Deep Ellm I culd pass the twefh graid every day on ma way to get sum more dollas. Dem Kids will be new and gimme dare lunch moneys ebery day so I be all fo it!.

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

Robert---See who has donated to Pauline's war chests lately? I bet, I bet, there is some money from these guys in there---or their backers. They have the support of the Great White North Dallas Oligarchy.

Her late father would be ashamed of her. He was for the little guy, not some edu-business entity that will be used to change a successful area into something else. Why did we spend money and time to name a DISD school after him? Why not take that down and let them put his name on this one, instead?

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

" I specifically shared with him that Uplift will be happy to issue a"no contest" letter to the City when there are specific establishments that the broader Deep Ellum community wants to open near the school that serve alcohol. What Mr. Annimo [sp] requested that I was not comfortable agreeing to was a broad sweeping "no contest" letter for any establishment within 300 feet of the school. As I hope you can appreciate that might cause undue risk to our organization. Again, I shared with Mr. Annimo [sp] multiple times that we are not trying to be a "thorn in the side" of the property owners of Deep Ellum but would like to work collaboratively with them and believe that the school will be a positive asset to the Deep Ellum community."

I do like the we haven't even moved in yet but  LEAVE NO DOUBT BUDDY  "FU*K YOU"

 WE ARE THE ONES IN CHARGE NOW NEIGHBOR  quality first sentence the the copy and paste I am using as an example. The rest just reinforces how on top of the heap the new kids see them selves to be ...

Donna Harris
Donna Harris

If you've been keeping up with the comments, therelationship of UpLift's Chairman, Kevin Bryan who is Chief Counsel for CrowHoldings, and the sellers SVP is John Bryant, which tells me this isn't reallyabout education.

You can count on the school, to only keep its doors open, until the holdingcompany, no doubt Crow, decides to sell or lease it for big dollars whenproperty values go up. Noshame in that. Bring it on!

However, if Crows people would ever go to Deep Ellum, they would realize thereare much more compatible non-profits, who could use that building, while they"hold it"!  I challenge them to convert it into a collaborativeartist residence and gallery, for use by an equal number of art students, fromUNT, SMU, UTD, UD and DCCCD. We are a college town after and it's certainlylarge enough.  I'd even volunteer to help with that.

There are a terrific number of intelligent people in Deep Ellum who could thinkof other equally compatible solutions. And that is what bugs me the most! The people who live in Deep Ellum or who grew up standing in line in Deep Ellumand continue to support it, have a zillion ideas, but no one seems to respectthem enough to ask.

If you people are truly educators or advocates of education and love all of our neighborhoods, as it they were your own,allow your minds to expand and "park" something there that will be abetter fit for the neighborhood, everyone can beproud of!

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

I just dont get why our clueless heroes in Dallas City Government cant build this out somewhere in the CBD, i've always said that the farmers market would be a great place for a charter school..

Bbetzen
Bbetzen

Today's Dallas Morning News editorial about the qualities needed by the new superintendent Dallas ISD is now searching for was credible and tempting until it said the new superintendent should, "move more quickly on worthy ideas such as creating in-district charter schools ..."Too many of the DISD efforts to improve go toward a foundation based on some students having different educational resources being made available to them than other students: magnet schools, charter schools, etc...   Such "separate but equal" practices appear to be critical to the DISD comfort zone. But what would happen if the foundation for Dallas ISD were to become absolute equity among all schools for all students, at least through the 9th grade? That has been the increasingly firm foundation in Finland for the past 40 years. They have now, since 2000, had the highest student performance in the world! Every student in Finland does well. Finland has a higher proportion of immigrants than 18 states in the US. Immigrants excel quickly in Finland. The newest book on education in Finland, "Finnish Lessons" by Pasi Sahlberg, was published in November 2011. It is already sold out on Amazon.  New copies are selling for as much as $450.00! See http://www.amazon.com/Finnish-... Dr. Sahlberg has an old 2009 DMN Jim Landers article on his web site that summarizes Finnish Education: http://www.pasisahlberg.com/do... .Dallas ISD students will continue to fall below students in Finland for as long as any DISD students are treated differently. The days of separate but equal must be gone in Dallas!Is the Dallas Observer willing to lead the charge for total educational equity in DISD?

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

Well DUH ?

Is this  a classic Misdirection play ?

What they want is nicer and well suited to their needs and is of course somewhere  else. However  as a " First Choice"  would be a Political nightmare.

 

Raine Devries
Raine Devries

"...serve over 900 students..."   

In THAT building?  How is that building going to handle more than 900 students plus almost 100 personnel? 

If they are striving to serve that many kids they need to be in a proper school facility and paying DISD to rent / buy.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

We hear of meetings and groups doing this that and the other. As to what the future of the area should be ?

So How long has the Poison pill been waiting to be dropped into the mix ?

 

Jeeze Louise
Jeeze Louise

Where & what time is the Monday evening meeting with Theresa O'Donnell?  Did I miss the link?

ELH
ELH

There are about to be 11 empty DISD schools.  Surely Uplift could use one of those (there's even one right near downtown) and provide an educational alternative for neighborhoods that are having their schools taken away.

LaceyB
LaceyB

Bar, bar, bar, SCHOOL, bar, bar, tattoo parlor. One of those doesn't fit. There haven't been kids in the DE since the 80s (so I've heard--was a kid myself in those times). Let the DE be & grow (slowly, but still...)

Stephanie Hastings
Stephanie Hastings

I still want to know why the families of these charter school people are more important than the families of all of us that already work in Deep Ellum. Why they can be okay with putting so many of us out of work (when they kill our community) ... I'm curious.

Stephanie Hastings
Stephanie Hastings

I'm still completely amazed that anyone in their right mind would think that this is a good idea. I'd continue to rant like I did in the first article about these shenanigans but the inability to rationalize the irrational has exhausted me. Seriously folks... this is dumb. It will put hundreds of people out of work. It will slowly suffocate the area. Their "75 jobs" is horseshit and no one will want to be there once the current community members have been driven out.They used SUP and tactics to harass the bars on lower Greenville. Might as well do it to Ellum now, eh?

David Fury
David Fury

This is a bad idea, wrought with seeming agendas. "Our staff, mostly 20 somethings, will likely want to live and play in Deep Ellum as well (not verbatim), but if the TAB code says that no booze can be served within 300 feet of a school, then that shuts down EVERYTHING presently LIVE in Deep Ellum. LaGrange, Trees, Anvil Pub, DaDa, etc. So what? They have to stop serving alcohol? You might as well as have them all close right now. This is obviously a ploy to drive that last nail in Deep Ellum's coffin, so that they can raze the whole area and sell it off to the highest developer/bidder.

abuckley1970
abuckley1970

unfortunately, this is a board of adjustment case.  You can't lobby the board because they are quasi-judicial, meaning if you don't agree with their ruling on the BDA case for a parking special exception, you can appeal that decision to the courts.  The council has nothing to do with this because it is allowed by right by zoning law.  The council woman can't even lobby the Board of Adjustment.  Truth of the matter is, this use is allowed by right.  If it weren't for the parking adjustment, they would just move into that building and there would be nothing to do.

If Uplift scales back about 5 classrooms, they can go in this building by right and be able to 'park' it.  The empty portion of the building would remain empty because nobody would be able to move into it and 'park' it.   Uplift could renegotiate for a lesser contract price as a result but they could still move into it.

The bad thing here is the ability of the school to call TABC for whatever reason on any bar in Deep Ellum.  All it's going to take is ONE kid to get hurt, hit on, or propositioned by a homeless guy.  Next thing you know, the bars are being scrutinized by every enforcement agency.

The zoning law should not have allowed schools by right.  That's the issue.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

And you need to turn out in droves to make sure that Edwin Flores and Mike Morath do not get reelected.

Flores is up for reelection in May.

He may not represent Deep Ellum, but his votes sure will impact Deep Ellum.

Jaguar2323
Jaguar2323

The last name Bryant is one of the top 100 last names in America...over 216,000 people have the last name Bryant.

http://names.mongabay.com/most...

This could be one of the silliest claims I've read in the history of reading the Observer...and that is saying something.

Donna Harris
Donna Harris

Also, knowing that teachers at charter schools are generally paid lower salaries than their public and private counterparts, are not generally allowed to participate in teachers unions or job security and most don't get paid more for coaching or overseeing activity clubs, the 75 teachers are not going to add to the big picture bottom line of the neighborhoods income. Their clients certainly won't add any income either.

Wouldn't it be better to put an organization in that location who has the potential to draw hundreds, if not thousands of interested participants, who will spend money at the restaurants and bars, so that even more restaurants and bars will open? 

One presumes the school will be exempt from paying property taxes which will also hurt the area at a time, when we can't afford it. Downtown makes more sense. They need the warm bodies more, when showing off Dallas, to prospective corporations.

This decision will our City coffers for a long time. Let's hope City leaders and their staff will protect the overall health of Deep Ellum and Dallas' potential for income.

Jeeze Loiuse
Jeeze Loiuse

Parking will be a nightmare.  There will be no street parking for any of the Elm Street businesses.   For those that serve lunch, it will be a huge problem.  In yesterdays post they address parking:

"Uplift is asking the Zoning Board of Adjustment for permission tooffload 49 off-street parking spaces at 2625 Elm. Because, Upliftwrites, "given the land use patterns, our location in proximity to aDART station and the abundance of free on-street parking during schoolhours, this request will not negatively affect neighboring property."

Teachers, staff + high school kids = lots of cars.  Not to mention the drop off & pick up traffic.  Elm Street will be a mess even if, and its unlikely, even half would ride DART.

abuckley1970
abuckley1970

It's at 6:30 at the DE office on Commerce, next to Adair's.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Oh, they plan to use those schools, too.Soon, DISD taxpayers will be paying the people at 3700 Ross PLUS the people at Uplift.We'll probably have to close more schools to pay for the double administration.

The Deep Ellum location has 1 goal:  drive out the businesses that are there so the land can be snapped up cheaply.

The only hope for Deep Ellum is to vote out the current school board members.  Edwin Flores is up for reelection in May.  Deep Ellum is not in his district, but his votes affect Deep Ellum.  

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Well, as far as the politicians are concerned, the charter school people are more important than all of you bc the charter school people make big contributions to the politicians.

The charter school people, the Dallas Citizens Council people, and the DISD school board people all know each other, send business to each other, and probably socialize together.  They work together to benefit each other.  The charter school people likely don't have it in for you, but they must remember the DCC people and the school board people who will fund their enterprise with tax dollars.

Very few people vote in DISD school board elections, so the board members are pretty much free to do whatever they want.  DISD leadership has incredible influence on all of Dallas.  

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

So, they admit they mostly HIRE YOUNG people? They ANTICIPATE it? That smacks of age discrimination.

abuckley1970
abuckley1970

The school's presence won't shut them down automatically unless they let their permits/licenses lapse.  They're grandfathered BUT it does open a can of worms - the school can protest any TABC license at any time and TABC can revoke them if a convincing argument is made by the school. 

God forbid a kid gets hurt by a vehicle, a drunk or a homeless bum.   Kids don't belong in this neighborhood...period.  And who knows what effect this will have on the Elm Street public improvement project or on the traffic in the afternoons.  Beer trucks have a tendency to run about the same time school would let out for the day. 

Additionally, if a bar owner wants to sell to a new buyer, the new buyer could have financing issues due to the nonconformity (grandfathering) with the distance requirement.

holman
holman

The owners don't want to run off the best renters.

Donna Harris
Donna Harris

Jaguar2323, I like you. It was stretch on the other blog, but given the incestuous nature of things around here, it was more or less to prove a point. Obviously a sarcastic fail. lol.  

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

You are connecting the dots and telling the truth.

Donna Harris
Donna Harris

Apologies, the Chief Counsel of Crows name is Kevin Bryant, not Kevin Bryan.

Stephanie Hastings
Stephanie Hastings

Isn't the city supposed to start construction on Elm Street, soon? They're supposedly changing it from a one way to a two way with bike lanes and so on... or, that's what we Ellum-ites heard last year.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Stephanie--I meant to add that I do feel really badly for you.  I'm sorry this stress and frustration has come your way.

Unbelievable that a noble goal to educate all children can be so corrupted and made to be a burden on the community.

cp
cp

I don't get it... I understand that kids don't need to be at bars, but the bars don't open until night. As far as the restaurants, why on earth would you exclude kids? I've seen plenty of kids with their parents at Cafe Brazil, Angry Dog, Adair's, Twisted Root. And what about the other daytime businesses, like galleries, etc? Those are off-limits to "kids"? And, no one answered this question from a poster on yesterday's post- How has Booker T negatively affected the businesses at One Arts?  

cp
cp

I don't get it... I understand that kids don't need to be at bars, but the bars don't open until night. As far as the restaurants, why on earth would you exclude kids? I've seen plenty of kids with their parents at Cafe Brazil, Angry Dog, Adair's, Twisted Root. And what about the other daytime businesses, like galleries, etc? Those are off-limits to "kids"? And, no one answered this question from a poster on yesterday's post- HOw has Booker T negatively affected the businesses at One Arts?  

Donna Harris
Donna Harris

Thank you Teacher!  Public school education taught me to think critically, daydream and be suspicious.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

I have a feeling thats going to be delayed, seeing that all the "neighbors" (i.e. business owners) have bitched and moaned about their ability to take deliveries for their stores, restaurants and bars..

Stephanie Hastings
Stephanie Hastings

You've, obviously, not been to Ellum recently. Bars open at 4. Put that with kids roaming around after school while their parents are still at work. Ta-da! Trouble.

abuckley1970
abuckley1970

You're not understanding.  It's not about kids being boycotted from the establishments in Deep Ellum.  The kids that frequent DE right now, mine included, are with their PARENTS, not hanging out after school.  My kids have been in the restaurants in DE but they were WITH ME and I wasn't drinking.   There will be several kids from 12 to 18 hanging out after school, not all of them, but several of them. 

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

CP, heres the thing: Its all about that 300 foot rule the TABC has in effect, it will prevent restaurants and bars from opening down here. If they decided to build at the corner of Elm/ Good-Latimer, where there is open property, I wouldn't have so much of an issue. But, instead of doing things right, they want to take over the fmr. Baylor property on elm, which would kill any business and cause traffic headaches galore....

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