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Appendix A
PUBLIC FORUMS AND
FOCUS GROUP COMMENTS

As part of the review process, public forums were held at 15 Dallas area high schools in which approximately 200 parents, teachers, administrators, and community members participated by writing personal comments regarding 12 specific topics of review; and in some cases, discussed these topics with review team members. Parents and community members also participated in smaller focus groups to separately discuss the 12 topics under review. Additionally, 27 focus groups were conducted at the Central Office and the office of State Representative Harryette Ehrhadt.

The following comments convey the community's perception of Dallas Independent School District and do not reflect the findings or opinion of the Comptroller or review team. These are the actual comments received for each focus area.

A. District Organization And Management
B. Educational Service Delivery
C. Community Involvement
D. Personnel Management
E. Facilities Use And Management
Part 1
Part 2
F. Asset And Risk Management
G. Financial Management
H. Purchasing And Contract Management
I. Food Service
J. Computers And Technology
K. Transportation
I. Safety and Security

Facilities Use And Management (Part 1)

  • We need more land to put in portables. We are past 100 percent capacity. Need to hire more custodians.
  • The problem we have at our school is that many times the custodians do not have the chemicals they need to clean the building.
  • Our custodian is a very hard worker. He needs more help. He only has three assistants each day and when one is out sick, he does double work to have our building clean for the students each day.
  • Planning for the use of the classroom facilities is very poor. Some schools are overflowing with students in portables while some rooms in the building are set aside for storage of old desks or for parent rooms when parents barely use them. Let's get all elementary students out of portables and into safe and clean buildings. It is amazing to see churches and officers being built today with state-of-the-art technology, exquisite furniture, gyms or exercise rooms, beautiful landscaping, etc., and many children attend school in shabby portables where they don't even have a bathroom. It's like our students have to go to the outhouse as it was before bathrooms were in most American homes.
  • I would like to see more workers in the area of maintenance to get the job done more effectively. I like to have repair in bathrooms, hallways, and throughout the building in a timely manner. The same problems shouldn't last from year to another. The workers shouldn't be overworked if someone is out. There should be a sub to replace them in their absence. The other workers shouldn't have to take on double responsibility.
  • Short of help due to the school enrollment. One vacuum cleaner working, one plunger, shortage of keys in areas normally worked.
  • Workers are not paid when they work on their breaks and they are not always paid for overtime.
  • Accidents are not reported and there is no form filled out.
  • Almost all school buildings are overheated in winter. During hot months the air conditioning does not work properly. The students achieve more with a good climate.
  • We need improved facilities for sports program in southern section of Dallas.
  • Stop using toxic materials. Please paint on weekends or during the summer when buildings are empty.
  • We, as citizens of Dallas need to focus more on the benefits and education of our students like you have at other schools like Mesquite, Highland Park, Rowlett and Plano. They focus on their kids like each school has special campuses, every band has a decent field to practice on, each band has instruments, and decent places to enjoy extra curricular activities.
  • Maintenance and custodial services are excellent.
  • Controlled heating and air conditioning.
  • Monitoring of parking area-glass and debris are problems.
  • Fence enclosures are needed for parking lot for security purposes with a person on duty.
  • Reserved sections are not respected. A visitor's parking lot is needed.
  • It is time to hire master custodians. Time is out for custodians who merely empty trashcans. Why don't they receive inspection and assessment as teachers do? Restrooms in particular schools are disgraceful.
  • I am concerned that some schools have lovely grounds and others have very poorly kept grounds. Paper in the yard, weeds and unkept lawns, little or no watering on the grass are just a few of the things I've observed. I'm a community leader, not a teacher so I can't speak to facilities planning on energy use. When I've volunteered my services for the past 14 years, the school has been very clean inside. So commendations inside the building. Let's work on the external appearance.
  • J.J. Rhodes needs to build the portables on to the school for safety and security reasons. Also, J.J. Rhodes has the best custodial services in the district.
  • We need an updated coding system in J.J. Rhodes because it is really, really hot in the summer.
  • J.J. Rhodes need a larger cafeteria and A/C unit update to maintain such an older building. Our school has no playground equipment except swings that was there when I attended the school 40 years ago.
  • We need girls' locker rooms. This district is too old for us to still be in the stone age.
  • Our facilities are very updated with a few minor problems, i.e. parking and lighting. Air conditioning and heating sometimes goes on the blink. Nothing major in this area.
  • City Park, one of the oldest buildings in Dallas Public Schools is one of the cleanest and brightest. They have all building codes completed for handicap access. There is a warm, safe feeling there.
  • Older facilities are in dire need! HELP!
  • How awful to have a teacher in a classroom with 25 young minds enduring temperatures of 90 on a beautiful crisp autumn day. How can teachers function in such an environment?
  • We need to focus on renovating and repair.
  • We need help with updated air conditioning in our building. Extremely too hot in the summer.
  • Facilities use and management should foster strategic planning for the student population of ethnic diversity. Studies should be conducted systematically to plan adequate facilities, custodial services, use of energy, and building capacity.
  • Our building is very dirty. Lots of parents have complained but nothing has ever been done. Who gets to do something? Who's responsible?
  • Why are there so many portables in our district?
  • Why is it so difficult to get portables delivered and set-up? (We requested some in July and it was February before they were usable.)
  • When new schools are built, why aren't they large enough to accommodate the projected enrollment? Looking back in 1996, seven new schools opened and everyone of them have multiple portables (none with bathrooms).
  • Build new schools that are larger than needed.
  • Build modular additions, with bathrooms instead of multiple portables.
  • I really have no complaints about this issue. My children don't get sick from building or facility inconsistencies. I don't suffer because of poor maintenance, so I cannot state anything too opinionated in this area.
  • Stop building schools that are small. It makes no common sense to build schools (i.e. Mary McCleod Bethune) and add portables the second year after it was built. Is anybody paying attention to growth potential in the area prior to building being built. Somebody needs to do some homework.
  • Stop putting predominantly African-American schools request for repairs on the bottom of the pile.
  • We need more new buildings. No more portables. Quality control maintenance staff and custodial.
  • Build more schools in the inner city. Our schools are crumbling. Even though they're being patched, it's not enough.
  • The school Sunset, needs more classroom space. They are woefully overfilled classes and too many portables. The kids feel disenfranchised. Too many students feel that no one cares. The buildings need to be updated and enlarged.
  • I strongly suggest that our district facilities planners come over to Sunset High School and do some serious review of the building structures itself. This school can certainly use some refurbishing from the front of the building to the very back. The majority of our children's classrooms are overcrowded and as well as dusty; which can promote upper respiratory health problems.
  • I am teaching seniors this year and my desks are so outdated that many of the students are not able to sit comfortably because many of the desks are too small for the students. I've had several incidents in which a student had to be asked to relinquish his or her seat because the seat in which he or she was sitting had to be given to another student because the desk or seat was too small. Afterwards, the student who had to move was short and had to move towards the back and could not see the board. I've requested larger desks a number of times.
  • School is being used for political meetings by an organization that is in alliance with the principal. It is also a religious group. Where is the separation of church and state? Who is paying for these meetings? School has no money!
  • The political group is Dallas Area Interfaith. They need to go.
  • Our building is 75 years old with many portables. Please try to upgrade our facility. Rosemont is a school that is overcrowded and has very little room for exercising. Kids need space.
  • The custodial services need a lot of improvement. I realize Sunset is an old building but this is ridiculous; under the stage, around the stage, the area of the seating and curtains are terribly dirty, old, and ragged. Why? Who is over maintenance, the repair work that Sunset needs is costly, because it has not been kept up. Someone needs to really supervise these people who work in these areas. It is such an old beautiful architectural building. It's a shame to just let it run down. It should be kept up. Maybe the historical district could help with funding.
  • Our facilities could be better maintained and used more cost effectively. Building new isn't always the answer. Remodeling and improving existing structures as well as adding more can stretch funds. It is important to deliver promised upgrades and not let facilities get too run down in order to maintain pride in the surrounding area.
  • There is a need for more classrooms at E.B. Constack. The use of the building is fair and could be used if there was places for rooms.
  • We have inadequate classroom space. Have you seen SCGC?
  • We need more custodial services in the schools.
  • Someone needs to check the restroom. I was in one school where the girls' restroom had no water in the sinks. How are the children going to wash their hands? We need to repair these small things, as well as the bigger things. It does not take long to repair a water faucet.
  • Maintenance is usually completed in a timely manner for smaller projects. But those projects, which are considered more complicated, the time for completion and the quality of completion is lacking.
  • Repairs on buildings are slow. Several men are doing simple jobs and killing time.
  • Two portables were added to J.Q. Adams this summer. We still have no sidewalks or overhangs by them. The west wing of J.Q. Adams is so old we cannot have Internet hook up.
  • We need more classrooms.
  • W.W. Samuell is overcrowded. There are four portables presently and there is a need for more. We need to build another school in this area to service the children.
  • Maintenance from the district takes too long for repairs. Custodial service is fair, but more people are needed for custodial services, full-time employees and not part-time employees.
  • We need more classroom space.
  • My parents always talk about the taxes being raised and there are no clean facilities in this school. Where does the government put the money? There is no toilet paper nor are the facilities clean. Our facilities are deteriorating and there do not seem to be new portables coming to replace those with "ghetto" atmosphere. One portable (six classrooms) is actually a health hazard with mold, etc.
  • We need several more schools in this area. New schools are already overcrowded.
  • Dallas schools need more classroom space. I have recently returned to my high school and we now have portables. For years that school never had to have portables. The number of students are increasing and we need more space. We need to make the school feel comfortable not bothersome because the room is always crowded.
  • Put more money into dilapidating schools. Reconstruct old schools to make them environmentally safe.
  • Whoever plans these buildings should update plans. Elementary schools (new ones) have been built for 750 students and there are already 1,100 students in the building.
  • Portable buildings need portable bathrooms. We spend good amount of time waiting to go to the bathroom every day.
  • We need more schools to help with the student to teacher ratio.
  • Planning for new schools should be done by people who know schools. The hallways are not really wide enough. The buildings are very old and the classrooms are too crowded. I teach a computer lab with 24 computers, yet often have 33 students. The A/C and HV is inconsistent or nonexistent. Turning them completely off on the weekends seems to create more of a problem. Perhaps just turning them up to 80 in summer and down to 60 in winter would be better. Each school needs to be in charge of their own controls, not controlled downtown.
  • Restrooms in elementary schools that have a large number of portables are woefully inadequate. Portable restrooms are needed. A lot of instructional time is wasted waiting to use the restrooms.
  • The elementary school could use one more full-time custodian during the day. Presently, we only have one man trying to do it all. Our roof leaks in many spots and needs to be fixed. One teacher has had a leaking waterspout in her classroom for at least three years. Our school could also use more parking. Some of the sinks have no faucets either!
  • Custodial staffs are many times understaffed especially at the elementary level.
  • Students in Japan help with the cleaning. Perhaps students need to be trained to have ownership in our schools.
  • The more hours of the day our buildings are utilized the better.
  • Maintenance of our building is slow. Our buildings are investments that should be treasured. Rust and decay of buildings only 12-15 years old should not be allowed.
  • I have had children in Dallas Public Schools since 1983. Tonight, once again while visiting the restroom, I noted there was no soap in the restroom. There has never been soap in the restroom in Seagoville Elementary, Central Elementary, Seagoville Middle School, and Seagoville High School. I have commented/complained about this on and off for years and have been told the kids make a mess with it. They pull the dispensers off the walls. Well, clean it up and put up new ones when needed. This is a basic need and it has been known for at least the last century that hand washing is the best defense against spread of illness.
  • Dallas Public School has long put building maintenance at the bottom of the ladder. Too many of our schools have too many portables. Schools are planned and built with no vision for growth. Portables are being moved in when schools are being opened. Portable maintenance is a hit and miss. The environment that some DPS students have to learn in is substandard. Schools built for 600 children have enrollment of 850. Students from those lovely portables come into the building all day long to use the restrooms. This makes for halls that smell like restrooms. This is an unhealthy situation.
  • We need a second gym for our kids. There is just not enough room for all the kids. They need a baseball field really bad and field house. It is too bad the money goes where no one knows where it is.
  • Thank you to the principal who allows our children to participate in sports and to practice in the gym. This keeps our children involved in activities and out of the bad weather.
  • The buildings are not all adequate. There are too many portables even at new schools. And a lot of the facilities in Seagoville are poorly maintained and sometimes an embarrassment. This is very true. There are no paper towels. The hand dryers don't work. Sometimes, there are no toilet tissue papers and there's always no soap.
  • Management response to hygiene and cleanliness are way too slow. It will be next year before anything is done. Protect the health and care of our children.
  • Sometimes portables could be avoided if teachers rotated into unused space. I know this isn't the best arrangement, but the portable money could be used to provide additional technology or services to benefit students.
  • The people at Seagoville are in desperate need of another gym and more class space. We were told when SHS was built, that when enrollment grew to 1,000 students that the district would build another wing of classrooms, and a second gym. They never did. Other than the magnet schools (not including them) SHS is one of only two DISD high schools with one gym. And one high school has three. The district needs to take care of this.
  • Our school is available to anyone who needs a place to meet (within reason). I like this. It shows good community relations. I wish the elementary school was open for meetings.
  • We need a second gym, new field house and better facilities for our girls. I feel bad asking for this when there are several schools worse off than we are.
  • Kleberg Elementary and Central Elementary have some of the best custodial staff I've seen. These campuses are always clean, sidewalks safe, and hallways well decorated. Environment is important to learning.
  • We need better maintenance for all schools. Some of them are trashy.
  • It takes forever to get any kind of maintenance done in this district. As a parent who has called concerning several maintenance issues two years ago, these issues are still not resolved.
  • The elementary school could have used an auditorium so there would have been enough room for lots of people as well as the children. The bathrooms could be cleaned more often. It's a little hard to play basketball on a carpet floor in the gym.
  • The schools all need more custodians and more teachers. You can't do the job without enough help. I have a grandson who goes to this school, and I would like cleanliness and plenty of teachers where he can learn how to be a good student and also that gives a child courage to know how to do perfect in all fields
  • Please put soap and toiletries in our schools and mop and sanitize our schools every once in a while. If you want our kids in school, keep the germs down.
  • Our school, Central Elementary is dirty. It's a fairly new school but we need a good custodian.
  • We have too many portables. The 5th and 6th grade rooms are too small.
  • The bathrooms have no toilet paper and no running water to wash their hands.
  • At Seagoville Elementary, I have repeatedly found stopped up toilets and bathrooms with no toilet paper for the children to use. The parking is a joke where an old building is said to belong to the city and the city claims it belongs to the school. Therefore, there is no resolution to the problem, just a lot of finger pointing. Central Elementary could be a nice decent school if someone would just keep it up. The school name cannot be distinguished because it's lost all colors and faded.
  • Teachers should not have to be subjected to teaching 30-33 children in a portable where there is hardly enough room to turn around.
  • The heating and air conditioning units are antiquated. If they are not freezing the teachers and students, they are burning them up.
  • No portables should be behind a school because it causes problems.
  • We have too much money in this district for portables. Keep our children safe. Portables are unsafe.
  • We need our facilities to have toilet paper, napkins, paper towels, and running water in the restroom.
  • We need our facilities to be cleaned at least four times a year.
  • Students must be taught to have pride in their surroundings. Pitch in to maintain classroom, halls, school grounds, and property.
  • Schools are overcrowded. We need more buildings.
  • Schools should be used a minimum of 16 hours per day. A two-hour/day shift would allow us to have smaller classes in critical areas.
  • School buildings need to be expanded to accommodate our students without portable buildings being necessary.
  • In our district we have too many temporary classrooms. Our older buildings are not prepared for the new technology that is needed for classroom instruction.
  • The water fountains are half-functional. The water is hot during the year. It doesn't come up high enough and children put their mouths on it.
  • There are not enough lights on the parking lots at middle and high schools.
  • The cafeterias need to be overhauled. The kindergarten and pre-kindergarten students have to sit in chairs designed for adults.
  • New buildings are needed in this area.
  • We need new buildings before placing computers in schools.
  • A review should be done to see that buildings are physically sound and energy efficient.
  • Please help keep our facility clean, the bathrooms, hallways, etc. Paint twice a year and not just when we have visitors.
  • I would like to see better facilities for our school. The bathrooms are bad. Gyms are unsafe for athletic activities.