By Steve Pickett

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – For 11 years, Lew Blackburn has served as a member of the Dallas Independent School District Board of Education.

As the board’s current president, he sits at the helm of directing policy and budgeting.  He’s also been the focal point of protest.  “I think it’s discourteous to go to a neighborhood”, Blackburn said, in response to picketers who protested in front of his wife’s Grand Prairie home.

Blackburn prefers to have the debate in the public forum, and right now, the topics of debate are plentiful for Dallas ISD.   “We’re looking at making additional cuts,” Blackburn said today, regarding job layoffs for the district.

Last week, the school board approved a consolidation plan that will close 11 DISD schools.  175 teaching positions are at stake with the consolidation.  The closures could save the district $11 million.  But DISD faces a projected budget deficit of $38 million, and 300 more elementary teaching jobs may be cut.

Blackburn acknowledged today an air of dissatisfaction from frustrated parents connected to the closed schools.  There has also been a succession of top-level administrators leaving the district.  But the board president said funding challenges are real, but they aren’t stagnating the education of students.  “The school district is in very capable hands right now.  We’re very stable from top to bottom.  We are making changes in various areas and portions of the district to make it even stronger.”