Schools in the Dallas Independent School District were placed on the Endangered Places list in 2015 in regards to a few which were threatened with replacement due to the passage of a 2015 school bond. Several years later that threat has intensified as the administration just released a Strategic Facilities Plan calling for the demolition and replacement of seventeen schools with decisions to be made about the fate of an additional six. The schools were selected for the list based on age, facility condition, and enrollment.
The plan is an effort to reduce the average of schools in Dallas from 51.7 years to 46 years to get more in line with the national average of 44 years. The majority of the schools proposed for demolition are historic and range in style from revivalist to mid-century, with many designed by significant Dallas architects, including Mark Lemmon and C.D. Hill. Schools proposed for replacement include: Hawthorne, Peabody, Hall, Rhoads, Thompson, Kiest, Geneva Heights, DeGolyer, Hexter, Reilly, Walnut Hill, Urban Park, Pease, Atwell, John Q Adams, Longfellow, Marcus, and DESA. Schools where a decision will need to be made include Field, Hogg, Peeler, Twain, Miller, and Milam. They are scattered all over the city and date from 1915 to the 1960s. The massive plan would require voters to pass a $2 billion bond in 2021 to make the project happen.
Historic schools are extremely important to the sense of place in neighborhoods across Dallas and are landmarks within each respective community. They were built to last and constructed of substantial materials with a high level of craftsmanship and unique design. We encourage DISD to thoroughly explore the rehabilitation of the existing school or the incorporation of the structures into new designs that will meet the needs of the district. There are many options which would both value the original buildings, many designed by prominent Dallas architects, such as targeted demolition of ancillary additions and the rehabilitation of the original core structures while adding new spaces to accommodate the needs of larger schools. A great example of that is the Booker T. Washington School in downtown for which the historic school was restored and a new modern addition added to the rear. A blend of old and new buildings would celebrate the importance of physical examples of civic history while educating children and teaching them that we don’t need to be a disposable and wasteful society by tearing down something useful and carting it off to the landfill when it can be repurposed. Historic schools are too important to be lost and every opportunity should be afforded by DISD for their continued use and preservation.
UPDATE: DISD has used the Strategic Facilities Plan to select which schools are to be demolished as part of the 2020 Bond Program. See the 2020 listing above for more information on which schools were chosen to be demolished and replaced.