By | June 3, 2018

DALLAS – It’s not unusual to see kids shooting hoops at the Magnolia Creek Apartments in Southern Dallas after school.

For the first time Thursday afternoon, administrators and police officers from Dallas ISD were there, too.

The district kicked off a series of visits to seven of the biggest apartment complexes in Southwestern Dallas with the lowest enrollment in DISD, dubbed "Rock the Block."

A Dallas ISD police officer served as a DJ, and there were giveaways and an enrollment booth.

The district is working harder than ever to enroll students because they’ve lost so many to charter schools or other districts, especially in Southwestern Dallas.

Schools that feed into Carter, Kimball, and South Oak Cliff High Schools have lost roughly 10,000 students combined to charter schools or other districts, said a Dallas ISD official.

Within the Carter feeder system alone, one-third of students, or 2,652, are enrolled in charters or other ISDs. 5,045 are enrolled in Dallas ISD.

"All of us have to be a little more innovative, a little more aggressive," said Jacqueline Bell, school choice communications coordinator for Dallas ISD. "We need to re-engage and re-involve ourselves within our community."

Schools receive funding per student, so if a student leaves, so does their portion of funding.

"Of course it impacts our budget and our ability to provide some of the extra things," said Bell. "Maybe we can’t get that new science lab because we just don’t have the money because it’s being siphoned off in so many different ways."

That’s why DISD wants parents to know, they’ve stepped up their game. The number of schools the state deemed "improvement required" dropped from more than 40 to 12 in the last four years.

Dallas ISD is offering new programs, including dual language, and those focused on law, STEM, or the arts.

All the DISD schools that feed into Carter met standards, while some charter schools did not, Dallas ISD touted on a handout to parents.

"The district is growing and changing and really becoming a district of innovation. Many parents are surprised at the offerings." said Bell, who recently transferred her son from a charter school to Dallas ISD. "I guarantee you if you look at the schools the best offering will be at DISD."

"I did learn that DISD is willing to go far and beyond to get students back in the schools," said Rochelle Grant, a Dallas ISD grandparent who visited the event.

Other parents said, "Rock the Block" was an opportunity to enroll their children into DISD early.

Not every parent is pleased. Lakeithia Palmer is transferring her girls to a charter next year.

"I’m not saying it’s bad, but I see more discipline than education, and I don’t like that," Palmer said.

DISD is already brainstorming ways to get more parents to come out to the next event, and possibly, change their minds.

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