Proposal would bring more education choices to underserved areas in South Dallas

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A holistic plan under consideration could bring more education choices across the city, especially in underserved areas in Sunny South Dallas.

Dallas ISD Chief of School Leadership Stephanie Elizalde briefed trustees on a proposal to turn Martin Luther King Jr. Learning Center into an arts-focused transformation school that would serve as a pipeline into Booker T. Washington and other fantastic district fine arts programs.

Under the proposal, students currently attending MLK would be welcome to continue there. In the future, families currently zoned for MLK would be zoned for Paul Dunbar Learning Center, which has seen a dramatic improvement in school performance under the leadership of Principal Alpher Garrett-Jones. Dunbar has started the application process to become a transformation school focused on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).

“Dunbar is prepared to educate our children, no matter where they come from,” Garrett-Jones said. “We look forward to this opportunity.”

A new H.S. Thompson Elementary is scheduled to open in August 2021, possibly as a STEAM campus. The new building will accommodate 675 students, including students currently attending J.J. Rhoads Learning Center.

Under the proposal, J.J. Rhoads would transition into an early childhood learning center serving three- and four-year olds in the Lincoln and Madison attendance zones. And, if voters passed a 2020 bond, Rhoads could also house a youth and family center and expand the early childhood center.

Community feedback

A series of community meetings informed the proposals to expand school opportunities in South Dallas, Elizalde said. The Dallas ISD Board of Trustees will vote on a transformation/naming proposal for MLK in December and the identified attendance boundary changes in January. The plans for H.S. Thompson will be finalized in March for board approval.

“The possibilities for South Dallas are endless,” Elizalde said.

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