Dallas ISD superintendent says school vouchers 'likely' to pass

“In the words of Ann Richards, I’d rather be at the table than on the menu," dallas ISD Superintendent Dr. Stephanie Elizalde said.

DALLAS — The superintendent of the second largest school district in Texas says, that because of the results of the primary on Super Tuesday, the likelihood of “private school subsidies” being able to pass is very likely.

Many GOP lawmakers also tell us they think some form of school vouchers will pass during the next legislative session in January.

So, we asked Dallas ISD Superintendent Dr. Stephanie Elizalde if she’s working behind the scenes to help craft legislation that minimizes the impact on public schools.

“I will absolutely answer that question directly: it’s time for us to start having conversations about being for something, not just against something, so that we can help craft a system that can help our students,” Dr. Elizalde told us on Inside Texas Politics. “In the words of Ann Richards, I’d rather be at the table than on the menu.”

Elizalde says she’d like to make sure safeguards are in place to guarantee public dollars are used in an accountable way.

For instance, she says if the STAAR test is good enough for any public school district, private schools should also use it.

Or, if public schools are required to keep a student on campus for the entire school year short of expulsion, private schools, she says, should have to do the same, especially if that student came to them from a public school.

“Remember, once those dollars go to that other private school, if the private school lets those students go throughout the school year, where are they going to return to? “Well they’re going to probably return to us, but we won’t have any of the dollars,” she argued.

The Dallas Independent School District is also facing a deficit heading into the 2024 – 2025 school year this fall.

There are several reasons for the shortfall, including the loss of $263 million in federal COVID funding that paid for additional tutoring, additional supplemental pay and additional positions.

There are also fewer students enrolled in the district.

While the final budget will be presented to the school board in the coming days, Dr. Elizalde tells us they already know there will be some job cuts.

“As we decline in enrollment, we decline in revenue because we get paid per student and therefore we should have less of a need for the same number of positions,” Dr. Elizalde said.

The big question is where are all of those students going, as neighboring districts also face tough decisions because of declining enrollment.

Dr. Elizalde says Dallas County experienced a decline in birth rates a few years ago. And those students are now hitting kindergarten and first grade.

But she says that has since reversed itself, and they expect to see an increase in a few years.

The decline in the student population can also be attributed to the housing crisis in Texas.

“There’s a lot of movement into North Texas. But housing costs are still keeping people from moving into Dallas County, and therefore, Dallas ISD,” Dr. Elizalde said. “This is really complex. I think the other thing is people want a simple solution to a very complex problem.”


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