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'It's A Little Mind-Boggling,' Says The CEO Charged With Closing Dallas County Schools

Rick Holter/KERA News
Voters decided to shut down Dallas County Schools, a school bus agency for several North Texas districts.

The new CEO of Dallas County Schools is used to cleaning up financial messes. Six years ago, Alan King calmed things down at Dallas ISD as the interim superintendent. When questionable business deals and mounting debt came to light last year at DCS he stepped in briefly as chief financial officer. Now, he’s been brought on to close the bus agency.

There are many issues to figure out, such as settling Dallas County Schools' existing debts, how the school districts will handle bus service, but the biggest challenge? King said it was getting agency employees to finish out the school year.

"They're naturally concerned about what their future's going to look like," King said. "As the [school districts] start to make their decisions, then they can start working with our staff to see who gets to go where so we can resolve some of those questions."

Interview Highlights

On whether he believed DCS' problems were too big to fix as interim CFO:

"I didn't see [Dallas County's Schools debt] as a hopeless situation. I didn't agree with the philosophy of the previous management, so I left, but I felt like it was a situation that could be resolved."

Credit Rick Holter/KERA News
Alan King has also worked for Dallas ISD as interim superintendent and auditor.

On how the school districts will handle bus transportation after DCS dissolves:

"Each district will decide how to do their transportation services, so they're either going to do it in-house or contract with a contractor. I don't see another organization being formed for that purpose. Now there are a few districts talking about consolidating services and working as a team to do it, but they would just share costs."

On what happens to the school buses DCS owns:

"Our initial thought is we're going to try to keep them pretty much serving the same people they serve now, and distribute them to the same districts they serve now. As long as the fleet's the same, try to keep the age of the fleet the same so that they're all getting equitable equipment."

On being transparent after the Dallas ISD superintendent said DCS was withholding information:

"If [the districts] need information, we're going to give it to them. This is a public entity and a Freedom of Information Act [request] should not have been required.

As a matter of fact, I had Irving [leaders] in my office, and I had a letter from their attorney where they had to file a request to get information from us - this was the third notification that we hadn't filled the request. I already talked to staff. I don't want this stuff around here, let's get it out."

Alan King is the CEO of Dallas County Schools. 

Former KERA staffer Krystina Martinez was an assistant producer. She produced local content for Morning Edition and She also produced The Friday Conversation, a weekly series of conversations with North Texas newsmakers. Krystina was also the backup newscaster for the Texas Standard.
Rick Holter was KERA's vice president of news. He oversaw news coverage on all of KERA's platforms – radio, digital and television. Under his leadership, KERA News earned more than 200 local, regional and national awards, including the station's first two national Edward R. Murrow Awards. He and the KERA News staff were also part of NPR's Ebola-coverage team that won a George Foster Peabody Award, broadcasting's highest honor.