With 227 schools, more than 140,000 students and approximately 20,000 employees, the start of school in Dallas ISD will always encounter a few bumps.
But, considering the size of the district, Dallas ISD Chief of Operations Wanda Paul said the start of this school year has gone as smooth for operations as any in recent memory.
“We start working on and planning for the first day of school right after the previous school year ends,” she said. “Our staff has incredible commitment to making sure our students have a safe, comfortable school that is in proper condition on the first day of school.”
The logistics that go into arranging the first day of school range from maintenance and construction to bus routes and overall operations.
Lester Singleton has overseen the Dallas ISD call center for eight years. He said the Back to School Hotline, which answers questions related to the start of school, received fewer calls on Monday than any other first day of school in his career. He credited the district’s effort to release back to school information throughout the summer as a main reason for the lowered call volume.
“I told my staff to get ready for Monday morning, because it’s going to be real, real busy,” he said. “We were very surprised by how manageable the call load turned out to be.”
Dora Rivas, executive director of Dallas ISD’s nutrition services department, agreed that this has overall been the smoothest back to school week she can remember. She said her department has received positive feedback from students and principals about new menu offerings, including the Smart Boxes that give students a fresh, healthy option for lunch. She said the Food and Child Nutrition Services Department worked especially hard over the summer to get the new lunch menu ready for the start of school.
“I wish the whole community knew what goes on behind the scenes,” she said. “They would certainly recognize the dedication and hard work it takes to make the start of school as smooth as possible and really the entire school year just as successful. “
Paul said she has seen excitement this week around the two new Choice Schools— the Innovation, Design, Entrepreneurship Academy High School at James W Fannin and the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) Middle School at D.A. Hulcy— that opened to students this week.
“It’s rewarding to see so much enthusiasm in these schools and in other schools across the district,” she said. “We are optimistic that this is going to be a great school year.”
Below are stats from the first day of school: