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Response Letter to Article titled Saving South Dallas Schools


The Dallas Examiner

Aug. 8, 2011

Dear Ms. Belt,

This letter is in response to the recent article titled Saving South Dallas Schools [that ran in The Dallas Examiner, July 28].

DISD has also zeroed in on the South East Dallas Jubilee Park Community. At a community meeting in March of 2010, Board Member Bernadette Nutall informed the community that DISD was guarding itself against an uncertain economy and that DISD proposed to close three area schools in the near future due to low enrollment numbers.

Ms. Nutall also informed the community that O.M. Roberts Elementary had declining enrollment numbers, but that DISD had a vision for the school. (A vision for DISD that has become a nightmare for the community). Ms. Nutall informed the community that DISD was planning to demolish the O.M. Roberts school in order to make way for a new school accommodating 800 students, even though millions of dollars were just spent to renovate it.

DISD leached onto an established neighborhood and began sucking it dry, creating not only destruction through demolition and evacuation, but also a stressful atmosphere with the harsh reality that DISD was not and is not concerned with the desires of its community.

Livelihoods have been destroyed as many families have been uprooted from their homes and businesses have been closed all for the expensive and unnecessary new school. As many readers may already be aware, DISD has been behind the carnage of clearing out a neighborhood piece-by-piece, brick-by-brick.

First, DISD lurked through the neighborhood using eminent domain lawsuits as a guise, and now today it is demolishing the newly renovated school and every vacant home left in the aftermath of its lawsuits. For the remaining families whose homes have been spared, the horror only continues. DISD has been busy transforming its newly "acquired" property into parking lots and is placing them right in between the remaining homes.


In the meantime, DISD has still failed to give an answer as to why it spent $2.6 million of taxpayer money to renovate the historical O.M. Roberts school, only to now demolish it. Not only will DISD's most recent actions result in further loss in value to the remaining properties in the community, but families who would have relocated to H.S. Thompson and O.M. Roberts in order to have their children attend an elementary school that enjoys an Exemplary status are now forced to go elsewhere, resulting in loss of income for our local businesses and a significant decrease in property tax collection for the City of Dallas.

Which also raises the question: How can DISD's decisions for South Dallas and South East Dallas be in the best interest of the students, residents, schools and communities, when: 1) Pre-K children will now be bused over to the new school at early hours of the morning, 2) the new mega O.M. Roberts elementary will accommodate 800 students which increases the current teacher/student ratio, and 3) the cost to taxpayers will increase in order to maintain the closed structures (the utilities and landscaping)? Why hasn't the district explored other options that would benefit our students, teachers and communities instead of going forward with a "plan" that reaches deeper into its taxpayers' already tightened wallets?

DISD's lack of concern and attention to the matter speaks volumes. They are demonstrating that there is no leadership and refuse to work together with the community to support the request of the taxpayers along with meeting their financial goals. The Jubilee Park community has been voicing their concerns for over a year now; and DISD has been taking every opportunity to avoid giving any clear and precise answers to important questions.

At another town hall meeting in May 2010, Ms. Nutall assured the community that DISD is "here to hear your concerns and to talk about the past, present and future of O.M. Roberts." Well, what about the future for O.M. Roberts? What about the vacant land DISD has now created by demolishing established homes?

The only response the community has received thus far has been a demolished school and homes. Arnold Viramontes told the taxpayers and voters that "DISD will be going back and looking at the four or five options" available to them and that "DISD will be setting up a FAQ section on its website devoted to O.M. Roberts and the new building." What happened to the other options? Where is the FAQ section?

A petition with over 1,600 signatures was submitted to DISD along with an alternate solution provided by the BC workshop proposing a plan with 3,200 square feet of parking so, there would be no need to expand parking lots into the surrounding neighborhood, but our voices continue to be ignored while our neighborhood continues to be destroyed.

Our community has fallen victim to DISD's unstable plans and we have lost a historic school, neighbors and friends. This tragedy could happen at any time to your own community, but it doesn't have to be this way.

Contact your DISD Board member at 972-925-3700 or State Representative Eric Johnson at 214-565-5663 and tell them you don't want these neighborhood schools to close, you don't want our children bussed around to other schools and you don't want parking lots in between the homes of the residents of Jubilee Park.

Best Regards,

Norma Hernandez

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