Michael Hinojosa and Stephanie Elizalde Talk Dallas State ISD

Devin Rambie of LegacyTexas Title, Dr. Stephanie Elizalde, Michael Hinojosa. Photo by Carol Toller.

Former Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa and current Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde spoke to state realtors about the school district and the options it offers Dallas residents.

The presentation was given at a back-to-school breakfast at Lakewood Country Club, sponsored by LegacyTexas Title, which recently opened a new office in Lakewood.

Attendees were greeted by the sound of marching bands and the sight of drill crews from WT White, Hillcrest and Woodrow. Chandra Hooper-Barnett, the new principal of Woodrow Wilson High School, was also present, among other Dallas ISD staff.

The essence of the leaders’ message can be summed up in a statement made by Hinojosa at the start of the conference: “Dallas ISD has great schools.”

Students of WT White High School. Photo by Carol Toller.

Although the district is trying to revamp neighborhood schools, Hinojosa said, there are also schools of choice for families. These include PTECH/ECHS, unisex, Montessori, STEAM/STEM, magnetic and hybrid schools, as well as career institutes.

“We’re going to hope to prove that we’re transforming every school in Dallas,” Hinojosa said. “In your business, this is very important to you. But also know that if the school in your neighborhood you’re trying to sell isn’t a high-quality school, you have options.

Debbie Sherrington is a realtor and board member of Hillcrest High School Community Foundation, as well as a parent of four ISD Dallas graduates.

“I just think we need to let people know that Dallas ISD is an option,” Sherrington said. “Realtors are the first people people who come to town develop a connection with. We need to change the narrative that you can’t go to ISD schools in Dallas.

During the 2020-21 school year, Dallas ISD received 505 student transfers from Richardson ISD, Hinojosa said.

Michael Hinojosa. Photo by Renee Umsted.

Elizalde, who lives in the Preston Hollow area, said a few neighborhood schools, including Woodrow and Hillcrest, offer the International Baccalaureate program. Dallas ISD also partners with UT Southwestern and Paul Quinn College to provide additional opportunities for students.

“When you feel empowered that I choose to go here rather than being forced to go, that has a huge impact on the success of our students,” she said.

Elizalde also spoke about diversity in schools and how residents worry about concentrations of poverty. Dallas ISD sometimes implements a 50-50 model on campuses, where 50% of students are economically disadvantaged and 50% are not. Schools such as Solar Preparatory School for Girls have this enrollment.

After the presentation, there was a time for questions and answers. The first question was about school safety. Hinojosa mentioned security vestibules — controlled entrances and exits — on campuses. And Elizalde said every exterior door on every campus is checked once a week to make sure it’s working properly, and door sensors are being added, which will trigger a sensor each time a door is opened. Bulletproof film is added to some windows, but not all, as it prevents people from getting out.

Elizalde ended the discussion with a report on how his time as superintendent has gone so far.

“I’m happy with what I’ve been through and look forward to continuing the work that [Hinojosa] we still have to do,” she said.

And Hinojosa noted that he started a consulting business, the Together Network for Transformation.

“I love this city and I love this neighborhood,” Hinojosa said. “And I’m 66 years old. I had a lot of energy.

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