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City/DISD Task Force Meets For First Time Finding Common Ground

Bill Zeeble
Three Dallas city council members and three Dallas school trustees comprise the task force. They include (l-r) trustees Lew Blackburn and Nancy Bingham, City Councilmen Scott Griggs, Adam Medrano, Mayor Pro Tem Tennell Atkins, and trustee Miquel Solis

In April, Dallas City Council members and school trustees met to learn about the home-rule issue that could change the way the school district operates. A task force that grew out of that session met Thursday for the first time. Council members said they could lobby for the district, but they must agree on what they want.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings created the task force so the two groups could work together to improve education. At Thursday’s first meeting, Mayor Pro Tem Tennell Atkins mentioned a few areas where city assets could help.

“We have great libraries, great recreation centers. Why we’re not working that partnership, we need to build,” Atkins said.

Council member Scott Griggs said the city could exercise its clout in Austin to help the district.

“Is there any lobbying assistance we could help you with?" Griggs said. "Do you feel as trustees you need an earlier start date in the school year? If so we would be happy to help lobby and support legislation to help make that happen.”

An earlier school start date is being pushed by Support Our Public Schools, which backs home-rule. So the district may conclude it’s not yet ready for that help. But other lobbying efforts might work. School trustee Nancy Bingham also suggested corporate or city-sponsored free wi-fi across Dallas as an educational plus. The group met for less than hour and will gather again in two weeks.

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.