DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The Dallas Independent School District on Thursday night approved the use of $46 million for moving to a new home. The new headquarters will actually save the district money, but it came as school board members said no to upgrades and improvements to a south Oak Cliff campus plagued with problems.
The tower located at 9400 North Central Expressway is already home to hundreds of DISD employees across two departments within the district. The plan is to consolidate district offices by bringing together nearly 2,000 workers under one roof. Board members voted five to three in favor of the move.
While some board members voiced concerns about funding the $46.5 million building purchase, those in support of this plan argued that the move will save money in the long run. DISD superintendent Michael Hinojosa said that, by centralizing school district employees from more than a dozen current locations, the district will be able to sell off those unused properties.
“We can sell the other excess property, non-performing assets that we have,” the superintendent explained. “Then, we can put that money back into the schools.” Hinojosa said that the savings will go into a construction fund that can be accessed to take care of the needs of individual campuses.
“We already lease space in this building,” Hinojosa added about the 16-story tower in north Dallas. “When they were going to sell it, we had the right of first refusal and had the opportunity to step in and make ourselves a little bit more efficient.”
The school district estimated that millions of dollars in cost savings will begin starting in 2018. Employees could start moving into the new headquarters by the end of this year.
However, while this decision was approved on Thursday night, school board members decided not to make improvements at South Oak Cliff High School in Dallas. The campus has been facing numerous problems in recent months — from broken pipes to exposed wiring to bug infestations.
South Oak Cliff High School has been the site of protests and walk-outs over the last year, with the most recent one happening earlier this week. Families have been demanding action, trying to convince the board to fund the much-needed renovations or even an entirely new campus.
Students and parents packed the Thursday night school board meeting to make their case heard. Board members have looked into how much money could be used for improvements, and had been considering a deal for $40 million, but that never came to a vote. Trustees on Thursday night discussed a budget amendment that would have set aside $30 million for the school, but that amendment did not pass.
Protestors are vowing to keep fighting after Thursday night’s setback. Sophomore Adriana Traylor participated in some of the protests, and said that she was disappointed by the vote. “We need the money,” she said. “You should have thought about the kids. Like, think if it was your kid’s education, how they would feel.”
A spokesperson for the DISD said that the earlier $40 million proposal is still there and could be considered at a future board meeting, if the trustees choose to put it on the agenda.