DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – It’s been nearly two years since students at South Oak Cliff High walked out of class in protest of the problem-plagued school, but a new chapter for the school begins today. Students, faculty and staff are completing their move to a temporary campus, so the old building can be renovated.
Despite South Oak Cliff High School being nearly 70 years old this will be the first major renovation to the building in decades. Parents and alumni say the repairs and improvements have been a longtime coming and they’re hoping everyone will return to a completely different campus.
The move began last week, with the community coming out to help teachers pack up their classrooms and relocate to the Village Fair. Students will attend classes on the alternative school campus for the next year and a half.
The Dallas Independent School District (DISD) is spending tens of millions of dollars to gut South Oak Cliff High School, after years of facility problems. There have been complaints about asbestos, contaminated drinking water, termites and natural gas and water leaks.
Both parents and alumni lobbied hard for the Dallas school district to turn its attention to the school and Horace Bradshaw, vice president of the South Oak Cliff Alumni Association, is among those glad to see the changes finally happening.
“It’s a case of if you don’t say nothing you won’t get anything. And that’s what the problem has been,” he said. “This neighborhood has been drastically overlooked for years. You look on the west side of [Interstate] 30 and all those schools over there… renovations… new schools.”
Voters approved a $1.6 billion bond package to improve Dallas schools in the fall of 2015 and $52 million of that is going to South Oak Cliff High. A large portion of the money will be used to install a new roof, repair plumbing and HVAC issues, expand the gym and cafeteria and create better parking on the campus.
The community will come together for a block party later today on the Village Fair campus, before classes for Oak Cliff students begin there tomorrow. “This momentum that we have galvanized through this coalition — coming together — has really sparked a great interest in this community,” Bradshaw said adding, “They now feel like we can do just about anything we set our mind to. We can keep our politicians accountable for what they promised our community.”
The block party is from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the Village Fair campus, at 4949 Village Fair Drive, and an open house will be held after.
Renovations at South Oak Cliff High are expected to get underway in a few weeks and are scheduled to be complete in August of 2019, in time for the start of the 2019-2020 school year.