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DISD holds public hearing for Wilmer, Hutchins

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The Ellis County Press
WILMER - The Dallas Independent School District is now faced with the dilemma of redistricting its map to include a board representative from the former Wilmer-Hutchins school district.

On Thursday, Nov. 9 the district held the furst in a series of three public hearings for the community of the former Wilmer-Hutchins school district. On May 12, 2005, Texas Education Commissioner Shirley Neeley announced that her agency's investigation found widespread cheating on the TAKS test.

Shortly after this announcement, the Wilmer-Hutchins schools were officially closed for good.

With dilapidated buildings, a $3 million debt, an indicted school superintendent, local and state investigations into possible misuse of tax money, the cheating scandal was the fatal blow that brought the district down.

Rolando Rios, one of the attorneys hired by DISD, explained the reason for the unofficial meeting and the possible plans to be sent to the DISD trustees to vote on where portions of the Wilmer-Hutchins district would be added.

The community members were encouraged to ask questions or make comments during these public hearings with many taking the this opportunity to do so.

Concerns ranged from the students having to get up at 6:30 a.m. to catch the bus to what will be done with the current empty schools that became the property of DISD when the merger became official.

Passionate community members voiced their frustrations with the way things had been handled by the state with comments about how fast everything had been done.

Some community members were unaware of the public hearing until the last minute.

When faced with this concern, Celso Martinez, Associate Superintendent for DISD, assured everyone, 'We (DISD) did create an extensive public relations plan on these hearing by advertising it in five different venues which included newspapers and television.'

This did not seem to comfort the community members and some even requested having more public hearings than were already scheduled.

Other community members asked why they could not have their own trustee.

This was answered by Rios, 'State law only allows nine trustees, which there already are, along with the population rules that DISD have to comply with will not allow another representative added.'

The former Wilmer-Hutchins schools only have a population of a little over 21,000 which is well below the 110,000 having to be maintained.

Each DISD district has to be within 10% of this figure as required by state laws.

'We (the trustees) may vote on these possible merger plans as early as Thursday.'

The merging plans were already in the works and would be reviewed by the DISD trustees within the next month.

DISD officials were scheduled to hold another meeting to discuss redistricting issues at 1 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16 at the DISD Administration Building, 3700 Ross Ave. in Dallas.

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