I'm stunned to read about Dallas ISD and the error that's been made in funding to the tune of $64 million. But I'm also surprised to see so little reaction to this news. Are we so over-numbed by news about issues with DISD that they don't alarm us anymore?
To read the paper this morning, some are internally making it sound like an "aw shucks," moment. It was kinda like reading, "Hey, we were just trying to get more teachers out there and we missed it… you know, by only $64 million."
I admire, trust and believe DISD Board President Jack Lowe to be a very dedicated and honest man. He definitely is a man of integrity. This has got to be a tough time for him as he is one who humbles himself to others always in ways I have long admired. If there is anyone who can be trusted to help right this wrong, it is Jack Lowe.
Today is likely to begin a series of questions that are going to be difficult. Will the other members of the board begin no confidence proceedings in the superintendent? The news media now most certainly will be in a frenzy; though there are two things that are going to help reduce the amount of air time this will get in the next week, one, 9/11 is today, and two, Hurricane IKE, which is even expected to pass over Dallas this weekend as a Tropical Storm with possibly 60 MPH winds. (Hey, it's already been swept off the front page of the Web site).
But there are going to have to be some tough questions asked of the leadership of the district.
Too often the top likes to pass off the blame and say that it was someone in the trenches fault. Maybe so, but after several years there, this has to rest at the top. Has the quest to win a prize from the Broad Foundation clouded out every other measure of common sense? Saying that there are mystery positions at the campus and that hides how much money you really need is amazing at this juncture. They have done their reorg after reorg under the present superintendent. They've let people go and more follow. Saying that you were too focused on the late audit and missed what was going on in the present doesn't cut it.
I was told last night that at least one person got sent home yesterday afternoon. But to read the paper, they've known about this for a month or so(and I'm told that Eric Anderson's enthusiasm has been waning during the past month.)
Through the passion of Superintendent Michael HInojosa the district has been On the Road to Broad; to win a prize for being the most improved school district nationally by 2010. This $64 million makes it sound like he's running down the Road to Broke.
Now sure, the district is going to cover this all by taking out of it's rainy day fund. But that money is there in case of emergencies. I'm sure being $64 million in the red constitutes an emergency, but gosh. They just borrowed $125 million to cover expenses until the state's money comes in. Now they're down another $64 million in reserves. This is not the kind of emergency the fund balance is intended for.
So ultimately, will the children of DISD suffer because of this? We certainly hope not. Will they continue to get a better education than they have been getting? We hope so. But it appears to me it's time for some very close circumspection of the man driving on the Road to Broad because right now he's the man on the Road to Broke, and he has achieved.