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Far East Dallas’ Mata and Mount Auburn elementaries to be repurposed

Dallas ISD board members on Thursday approved a plan to repurpose and add new programs at Mount Auburn (pictured) and Mata elementaries in East Dallas.

Published: 24 April 2014 11:28 PM

Updated: 25 April 2014 07:14 AM

Two Dallas ISD schools in Far East Dallas will be repurposed and gain new programs, including a Montessori, under a plan that school board members approved Thursday.

The changes at Mount Auburn and Mata elementary schools also are designed to alleviate overcrowding at campuses in the Lakewood and M Streets area. After a long debate, trustees voted to give administrators authority to modify the schools instead of requiring the board to approve them individually.

“The bottom line is, what is best for kids? Are we better off leaving it the way it is right now?” trustee Dan Micciche asked at the board meeting. “The downside is that we keep children in crowded schools.”

The changes will start next school year.

Mata will become a Montessori school and eventually add three grades to include prekindergarten through eighth grade. At Montessori schools, students have more independence and learn at their own pace.

Students who live near Mata and Mount Auburn will get first priority to attend Mata. Children in other East Dallas schools, including Stonewall Jackson and Lakewood elementary schools, will have the next opportunity. Stonewall Jackson and Lakewood are overcrowded.

About a mile from Mata on Grand Avenue, Mount Auburn will gain two grades to include prekindergarten through fifth grade. The district will also study adding a specialized program in science, technology, engineering, arts and math. Fourth grade will be added in the 2014-15 school year and fifth the following year.

Some trustees objected to the changes and suggested that overcrowding could be alleviated by changing school attendance boundaries. Students who live across the street from Mata actually attend Lakewood Elementary, which is 2 miles away.

Micciche said the boundaries couldn’t be changed because of “intense resistance” that might occur. Board member Bernadette Nutall said that is no reason not to explore a change.

“What is the resistance that we don’t want to deal with?” she said.

Home-rule update

Also at Thursday’s board meeting, trustees voted against hiring an attorney to advise them on the home-rule charter initiative. The board voted, 6-3, not to hire David Thompson, former chief counsel at the Texas Education Agency. Board President Eric Cowan and trustees Elizabeth Jones and Lew Blackburn voted in favor.

Under the proposal, Thompson would have been hired for $250,000 to provide legal advice about Support Our Public Schools’ effort to convert DISD into a home-rule district.


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