Dallas ISD is not only educating the next generation of leaders, but it stands as a vital economic powerhouse, leading the country in construction jobs added recently while building and renovating the city’s schools.
“We’re transforming the landscape of Dallas with our bond programs,” said Brent Alfred, Chief Construction Officer for the school district. “People don’t realize how much construction we’re generating and how important we are to the city. We will touch over 221 schools,” with 148 active projects and 73 slated for new construction or renovation. “But the real impressive number we’re tracking is the nearly 45,000 jobs that have been created through the bond programs.”
The district’s 2020 bond, approved by voters on Nov. 3, 2020, was the largest in the history of the state – a generous $3.5 billion. “We’re only approaching our third year of the 2020 bond program, and we’re close to having generated 45,000 jobs,” Alfred said. “I think we’ll see the 50,000 mark for sure.”
In addition, Dallas ISD is one of the largest employers in the city, with more than 23,000 workers serving about 140,000 students. All told, Dallas ISD is a major economic engine for the city.
Of the $3.5 billion provided by the ten-year 2020 bond, the district has contracted $1.1 billion so far. That covers land value, construction, technology, safety, and security, among other things. An earlier bond program, the nearly $1.6 billion 2015 bond, was a five-year program, and in just the first two years of the 2020 bond, the district has contracted as much as it did in the five years of the 2015 bond, Alfred said.
The construction benefits the entire local economy and will undoubtedly create jobs for some of the district’s students. “There’s currently a labor shortage in the construction industry,” he said. “When I reach out to students, I tell them there’s no better place to be than Dallas. People are moving here for construction jobs. They’re getting trained, and it’s the opportunity of a lifetime because there’s not this much [building]activity going on anywhere else in the country, especially in the amount of K-12 construction generated. New York and Los Angeles are the nation’s largest school districts, but currently, in the cycle we’re in, we are the most active in terms of K-12 construction.”
The Dallas Morning News reported this summer that, despite a slowdown in building starts this year, the Dallas area leads the country in construction jobs, the most of any U.S. metro area, according to reports from the Associated General Contractors. Construction employment in Dallas was 8% higher in May than a year before, the reports said.
“We’re a big part of that number,” Alfred said. “You can drive around Dallas and see work being done on highways and streets, which adds to it, but it’s a hotbed for the construction industry now in Dallas and the DFW area. If you break it down by market sector, for K-12, which is school buildings, we are one of the major players in that industry, nationwide.”