School bond packages usually sail through with little opposition. On Monday, the first day of early voting, a coalition of groups took issue with Dallas ISD's $1.6 billion bond package on the Nov. 3 ballot.
Reverend Ronald Wright heads an organization called Justice Seekers Texas, which is based in far East Dallas. On this bright Monday outside school headquarters, he told reporters he’s not against a bond package, just this one.
“No trust, no bond,” Wright said, almost chanting. “The bond was never planned. There was never public input.”
Wright said schools in need were ignored, while others -- aging landmarks in the African-American community -- like Pearl C. Anderson Middle School, were closed. It was shut two years ago.
“So this madness is setting the stage for 21st century segregation,” Wright said.
Former teacher Bill Betzen said he’s voted for every previous bond package, but he won’t vote for this one. He suggested school leaders work on it and refine it.
“Come back again in May with a good bond and a good plan for our children," Betzen said. “With public input, absolutely. That is the critical difference. All of the public has to be involved this time.”
Isaac Faz co-chairs the Future Facilities Task Force that put together the bond priority list. He was standing outside Rosemont Elementary School in Oak Cliff. The school is one of those slated to be replaced in the bond package. He fundamentally disagrees with critics. He says there was communication and public input.
“Each of the 27 members on the Future Facilities Task Force - we all had a voice,” Faz explained. “Trustees each had an appointee and each appointee was supposed to go back and talk to the trustee throughout the one-year period that we met. Further, we met with community members starting back in the late spring through the summer and into the early part of this school year.”
Opposition doesn’t surprise Faz. He said 20 to 30 percent of voters will always oppose a bond proposal. He also said buildings scheduled to come down will be replaced by new, technically-advanced facilities that better serve the changing needs of the district and students.