Allen Gwinn: Questionable TD Industries Charges to DISD

What I love about Allen, and why he was named a New Media Star by us in 2007, is that he burrows into little holes where the light doesn’t often shine. Here he finds some bills from TD Industries — 5 percent owned by DISD Chairman Jack Lowe — that look on the surface to be way out of line. He doesn’t make accusations (he even gives a pretty good explanation of why this might be allowed to happen). He just reports what he finds. In the comments, a DISD spokesman says he’ll look into the charges and get back. Add us to the list, please.

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Comments

5 responses to “Allen Gwinn: Questionable TD Industries Charges to DISD”

  1. Billy says:

    Wick,

    I too love Allen Gwinn. He proves an important point about why DISD needs to be dismantled; no one, not even someone like Allen who has dedicated his life to it, can understand the management and finances of DISD. Corruption, nepotism, and fiscal mismanagement are ingrained at every level and will not be defeated. Try to understand their organizational flow chart (try to get one a current one from DISD first.)

    Who are all these people with titles like director of transformation and instructional coaches and education specialist #11? Why do we have an “Agricultural Barn adjacent to the District’s Environmental Education Center in Seagoville” when we have classroom trailers at every school I drive by? DISD has been forming their $1.6 billion budgets based on numbers from the previous year’s budget, never looking the actual amount spent in the previous year. That is almost unbelievable. It is amazing the $84 million shortfall wasn’t worse. Who extends their own terms in management crisis?

    While I read and appreciated the spirit of the recent D Magazine special issue on DISD, it is my contention that DISD cannot and should not be reformed. Dallas needs to break up DISD into 25 single high school independent schools districts. All majority minority districts. We have a great model in HPISD.

    The reform that always works is teachers, in small size classes, teaching neighborhood kids. Budget and curriculums that neighborhood school boards can understand and oversee. A very flat organizational structure.

    We already spend the money we need to give our kids a good education. We have a strong base of teachers and principals. But we lack the will to admit that DISD is doomed. Blow it up. Start over.

  2. fred says:

    I agree with Billy – I have been a DISD supporter through my school years and on into middle age. I defended Lowe a year or so ago thinking that the $9 million his company had made from DISD was insignificant.

    But having seen the recent actions of Lowe defending Dr. Hinojosa against all logical and business standards, I must put aside my hopeful optimism and admit that something else is at work here behind the scenes. I don’t know if it is a political agenda, coverups of more corruption or what but the board’s moving to a smaller room to avoid public input, voting for a watered-down ethics policy with a “Jack Lowe exception” and to extend their terms has soured my support.

    The more meetings I attend, the more I am convinced DISD needs to be broken into smaller parts. Nobody can tell you how to proceed with a problem and that starts from the top down to the bottom. This maze is also a great place to hide corruption and incompetence. With smaller districts it should be much more transparent. Also it should garner more involvement by minority parents, something we in my neighborhood have been trying to foster for 30 years (without much success).

    While the smaller districts would share the tax base, some may succeed and some may fail. But at least the many good schools in DISD will no longer be tainted by the antics of 3700 Ross.

    Now how do we go about breaking up the district? What are the legal procedures?

  3. Wylie H. says:

    I also support the dismantling of DISD– albeit with a somewhat cynical spin. I think we need to accept the fact that something so radical will never happen without the active support of the Dallas Citizens Council and associates (who are beneficiaries of DISD capital spending programs).

    The reasons the DCC should be concerned about the situation are twofold:
    1) the level of corruption at DISD appears to be approaching levels which will erode support for future bond issues (i.e. more construction contracts) entirely– resulting in a loss of income for DCC members;

    2) the amount of institutionalized waste inside DISD has become so large that DCC insiders are collecting less of the pie.

    A revolution in Dallas public school systems wouldn’t cut-off contracts to favored insiders, it would just make them less “juicy” and fat. However, new, improved Dallas school systems would increase taxpayer confidence and make them more willing to approve future bond issues. In addition, improved schools would increase the taxpayer of the former DISD as more families would move in. Collectively, this would increase demand for services provided by school contractors.

    At the end of the day, DCC members would be doing more business with former DISD school districts, albeit with slimmer margins. The net effect, however, would be positive.

  4. Billy says:

    @fred the texas code is:

    http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/SOTWDocs/ED/htm/ED.13.8511.7305.htm

    I think this section is the one that applies:

    SUBCHAPTER C. CREATION OF DISTRICT BY DETACHMENT

    Sec. 13.101. CREATION OF DISTRICT BY DETACHING TERRITORY FROM EXISTING DISTRICT. (a) A new school district may be created by detaching territory from an existing school district or existing contiguous school districts and establishing a new school district.
    (b) A school district created under this subchapter has all the rights and privileges of other independent school districts.

    Sec. 13.102. MINIMUM AREA AND ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENTS. A new district may not be created with an area of less than nine square miles or fewer than 8,000 students in average daily attendance, and a district may not be reduced to an area of less than nine square miles or fewer than 8,000 students in average daily attendance.

    Sec. 13.103. INITIATION OF DETACHMENT. Creation of a new district by detachment is initiated by resolution of the board of trustees of each district from which territory is to be detached or by a petition presented to the commissioners court. A petition under this subchapter must:
    (1) give the metes and bounds of the proposed new district;
    (2) be signed by at least 10 percent of the registered voters residing in the proposed area to be detached from an existing district; and
    (3) be addressed to the commissioners court of the county in which the territory of the proposed district is located or, if the territory is in more than one county, to the commissioners court of each county in which the territory is located.

    Sec. 13.104. ELECTION. (a) Not later than the 30th day after the date the commissioners court receives a petition under this subchapter, the commissioners court shall hold a hearing on the validity of the petition. If the commissioners court determines the petition is valid, each board of trustees shall order an election to be held on the same date in each district.
    (b) The ballot shall be printed to permit voting for or against the proposition: “Creation of a new school district that includes the following territory from the _________ School District: ___________________.” The ballot description of the territory to be detached must be sufficient to give general notice of the territory affected.
    (c) An election on the detachment of the territory and creation of a new district has no effect unless at least 25 percent of the registered voters of each district vote in the election in which the issue is on the ballot.
    (d) The boards of trustees shall report the results of the election to the appropriate commissioners courts, which shall declare the results of the election. The new school district is created only if the proposition receives:
    (1) a majority of the votes in the territory to be detached; and
    (2) a majority of the votes in the remaining territory in each district from which property is to be detached in the manner prescribed by Section 13.003.

  5. Louisa Meyer says:

    @ Billy. Let’s take your idea a step further and merge the districts. The immediate benefit would providing HP students access to more campuses to help relieve your overcrowding.

    Of the 7 elementary schools contiguous to HPISD, Jackson and Milam are Exemplary. Maple Lawn and Preston Hollow are Recognized.

    The remaining 3 are Acceptable but under the superior HP model you promote, they’d be Exemplary in no time.

    Let’s do it.