On the school board briefing agenda this week is yet another look at a building that DISD may purchase to consolidate many of its administrative offices — this time the former Belo Building. This follows a recent attempt to do so that got derailed because, hey, our schools need more money, why are we spending it on pretty office towers for Fat Cats!?
This is a colossally stupid way to evaluate such a move. The consolidation is being explored for sound financial and business reasons, all laid out in this report. The takeaway is pretty straightforward: DISD administrative buildings are in need of $221 million in immediate repairs. Given that buying a new building for (in this case) $25 million would not only partially solve that problem (you’d still need to put money in to sell the properties, I assume), AND it would help alleviate the wild-ass inefficiency caused by having 2,000 employees in 2.1 million square feet spread over 32 buildings, it’s a no-brainer.
Which is what I call a sensible plan that brings out the no-brain crazy commenters. You know, the ones who are crafty enough to realize that every business move made by DISD is a plot by our rich overlords. Like frequent DMN commenter “miss edu”:
This is ridiculous! Why can’t this district become progressive (I don’t mean that in a partisan political way) in the way it manages its resources? While consolidation is needed, a downtown skyscraper is a people-unfriendly and outmoded approach. I sense the influence of Rawlings and his cronies, some of whom are undoubtedly after Ross Avenue properties. We need intelligence, we need visionaries to bring this district to its rightful place – instead, we have profiteers and cannibals.
But that’s just one insane commenter, you say? Okay, how about this insightful analysis of a potential office consolidation from Place 6 DISD board candidate Joyce Foreman:
There is absolutely NO FREE parking downtown Dallas. Parents would have to pay to park to visit the administration building and others who would come for any reason would have to pay. How long has this building been on the market and what kind of repairs would it need? What about the millions in fiber optic cable that has been put down recently? Has their been an analysis of what DISD is paying now and what they would be paying? Will DISD have to contribute to the 2 downtown TIFS? How old is the building? The board should be asking many questions before they approve $200,000 to negotiate. The board should also be tired of the administration springing things on them at the last minute.
Which is, of course, a series of silly notions. City Hall requires pay parking; every CBD has little-to-no free parking; 3700 Ross is IMPOSSIBLE to park at during a busy meeting; optical fiber cable is plentiful; yes, the analysis is linked above; any building DISD is looking at, including Belo, is not as old as the buildings where offices currently are, and age only matters in terms of repairs, and we’ve established the enormous repairs needed at current facilities, and on and on.
Since you’re sure to see nonsensical arguments against this — all of which will take the form of “Why spend X on Y, when Z needs more money?!” — remember that this is a way that the district is trying to save money long-term and be a more efficient organization.