November 26, 2014

  • Committee Has Bold Plan For HPISD Expansion

    ElementaryGraphs2Here’s the fundamental question when it comes to planning the long-term future of elementary schools in the Park Cities: How do you plan for the future without tearing down the past?

    More to the point, should Highland Park ISD raze and rebuild two of its oldest elementary schools to help accommodate unprecedented enrollment growth?

    That’s a dilemma with which HPISD is wrestling as it fine-tunes its priorities for a bond initiative that it plans to put to voters in May, aimed at alleviating student overcrowding at each of its aging campuses as it enters its second century.

    In a landlocked district, it’s not as easy as just buying an empty space next to an incoming subdivision. And in a district such as HPISD, where tradition is valued almost as much as anything, it takes an extra level of sensitivity to nostalgia.

    Yet a surge in enrollment, coupled with demographic forecasts that show even more growth in the near future, means something must be done. That’s where the district’s facilities advisory committee comes in.

    Planning for the future

    In November, the committee of community leaders and parent volunteers voiced near-unanimous support for an ambitious plan to shape the future of elementary education in HPISD, by constructing a fifth elementary campus and subsequently rebuilding Bradfield and University Park elementary schools, both of which are almost 90 years old.

    The plan, which doesn’t yet have a price tag, would be presented to voters as part of a bond proposal in May that is expected to include several other district-wide facilities initiatives. It still is subject to approval by the district’s board of trustees.

    “They’re great schools, but they’re old,” said Lee Wagner, chairman of the FAC’s elementary subcommittee. “It’s time to take the next 100-year advance in our district. We need a master plan.”

    It needs to be stressed that such a proposal is still in the planning stages, and has been discussed so far only in a series of sparsely attended meetings with no public input. The opportunity for feedback will come in the next several weeks, when the district will solicit comments during some public forums that haven’t yet been scheduled.

    But essentially, the concept has three steps. First, HPISD would build a new elementary campus on 4.6 acres of land it plans to purchase from Northway Christian Church, near the intersection of Northwest Highway and Airline Road.

    Once construction is finished, the district would tear down Bradfield and University Park in successive years, with the students from each of those campuses moving to the new school while theirs is being rebuilt.

    Then the new school would open with a fresh name and mascot, and begin welcoming students of its own. It would have a projected maximum of 770 students, the same as a renovated Hyer Elementary campus. Under the same plan, Armstrong Elementary would be renovated rather than reconstructed, and will maintain its smaller capacity of 550 students.

    Wagner said the subcommittee reached that recommendation after touring each campus extensively, talking with administrators, studying district trends and projections, and analyzing costs and student benefits. He said renovating Bradfield and UP to the extent necessary to accommodate enrollment growth wouldn’t make economic or logistical sense.

    “We saw kids in hallways doing work with partners and in groups. There are kids overflowing all over the place,” said subcommittee member Blythe Koch. “Things like tests and conferences are happening in closets. Flex space is really important.”

    In 2003, the district had 2,282 students combined at its four elementary schools. By 2013, that number increased to 2,730 students, a jump of almost 20 percent, and about 100 students over the combined capacity. Outside demographer projections forecast enrollment to escalate to 3,091 elementary students by 2023, and continue rising after that.

    According to district statistics, all four HPISD elementary schools are currently operating above state-mandated limits for class size, meaning the district must apply for a waiver. That’s not unusual, but it might signal a troubling trend. At Bradfield and UP, more than one-third of classes are above the state limit of 22 students due to space limitations. Administrative and gathering spaces also are too small, and so are outdoor play areas that have been encroached upon by prior renovations.

    “As we’ve added on to the elementary schools, we’ve taken up green space,” Koch said. “[Physical education] and recess have a really hard time being out there together.”

    The subcommittee recommendation would expand capacity for kindergarten through fourth grade in HPISD to 3,410 students — including 770 apiece at Hyer and the new campus, 660 each at Bradfield and UP, and 550 at Armstrong.

    HPISD superintendent Dawson Orr said the district has an agreement in place that’s being finalized with Northway to buy the land contingent upon the passage of a bond election. If it’s passed, the new elementary school could be ready to open its doors by the fall of 2016, according to Jonathan Aldis of SHW Group, the architect hired by the district to oversee the process.

    Wagner stressed that the subcommittee’s proposal creates a unique opportunity by allowing students to relocate for a year into a new building while the older ones are being rebuilt. That wouldn’t be the case if the district launched a fifth elementary campus now, and decided later to reconstruct the others.

    Looking at long-term options

    SidebarElementaryOf course, the final cost of the bond proposal, including significant upgrades at the Highland Park Middle School and Highland Park High School campuses, will ultimately determine the increase to the property tax rate. Orr said that because of a superior bond rating and other factors — including historically low interest rates — the timing is appropriate for another major bond initiative.

    “It’s a political question and not a financial integrity question,” Orr said. “The district can take on more debt.”

    Voters overwhelmingly passed a $75.4 million bond issue in 2008 that included renovations to each campus, most notably expanded gyms and cafeterias, as well as security and technology upgrades. That included improvements at Bradfield and UP, of course, which might now be torn down. And the district hasn’t finished paying those bonds yet, either, and won’t be until 2029.

    So that might raise questions about fiscal prudence, especially as it relates to the last bond initiative. But the subcommittee presentation noted that demographic projections prior to 2008 have since been exceeded. They want to tackle the current opportunity with more of a big-picture approach.

    “We’ve been dealing with overcrowding for 25 years. We’ve always underdone it and been forced to play catch-up,” Koch said. “Eventually we will run out of options on these campuses. We think planning ahead is going to save the taxpayers money in the long run.”

    By Todd Jorgenson Nov. 26, 2014 | 3:00 pm | No Comments | Comments RSS

  • HPISD to Host Night at Perot Museum

    ScienceFestivalThe Highland Park High School Science Festival Committee invites all HPISD families to explore the Perot Museum of Nature and Science on Dec. 2 from 7 to 9 p.m. for FREE.

    Registration is still open for the 1,500 available spots. According to organizer extraordinaire Elizabeth Showalter, they currently have right at 500 registrants, so hop to.

    Created last year by the science fest committee at the encouragement of Superintendent Dawson Orr, the Night at the Museum is aimed at engaging the whole district in science-realated activity and giving HPHS Science National Honor Society students an opportunity for service hours.

    Special attention was paid this year to working with MIS/HPMS science department chairs and K-8 specialists to create scavenger hunts and activities for each grade level to fit what is being studied in the classroom, according to Showalter.

    And y’all, the scavenger hunts have prizes! Elementary students can win gifts for their science labs for completing hunts. Students in fifth, seventh, and eighth grade will receive homework passes, and sixth graders will earn extra credit to replace a low daily grade.

    To register, you’ll need the event code: HP rocks! Print out your tickets at home to avoid lines.

    By Elizabeth Ygartua Nov. 26, 2014 | 11:34 am | No Comments | Comments RSS

    November 25, 2014

  • Returnees Lift Scots Past Jesuit

    Highland Park's Mitchell Kaufman made his basketball season debut on Tuesday as the Scots beat Jesuit 63-50. (Photo: Chris McGathey)

    Mitchell Kaufman made his basketball season debut on Tuesday as the Scots beat Jesuit. Click here to see more photos. (Photo: Chris McGathey)

    While Highland Park was playing with its full squad for the first time, Jesuit was still shorthanded. That disparity contributed to a lopsided result, as the Scots rolled past the Rangers 63-50 in a nondistrict clash on Tuesday.

    HP had the services of varsity returnees Mitchell Kaufman and Campbell Brooks, who were added to the roster after their football season finished over the weekend. Both started and made significant contributions before fouling out in the fourth quarter.

    Brooks had nine points and played some tenacious perimeter defense, while Kaufman tallied five points and a game-high six rebounds.

    “They’ve been staying in shape. They just needed one day of practice and they were ready,” said HP head coach David Piehler. “Their leadership and experience showed.”

    Meanwhile, Jesuit played without Michael McReynolds, its top scorer from a year ago, who sat on the bench in street clothes because of a foot injury.

    As the Rangers (0-2) shuffled their lineup, their shooting woes resulted in just 20 points after three quarters. Combined with a 28-18 rebounding disadvantage on those missed attempts, the result was catastrophic.

    “We’re still coming together. We have a lot of guys in new roles this year,” said Jesuit head coach Chris Hill. “That’s why you play these games. As long as we learn from it and build on it, then it’s all good.”

    The Scots (3-3) recovered from a slow start with a 13-1 run in the second quarter to open up a 25-10 lead. The advantage was stretched to 38-15 after halftime, as the Rangers didn’t connect from the floor in the third quarter until a putback by Sam Truxal with less than a minute remaining.

    Jesuit never threatened after that, as HP was able to slow the pace with a big lead. The Scots scored almost half of their points from the free-throw line, where they connected on 29 of 40 shots.

    Ryan Michael paced HP with 14 points, while Pete Davis added 10 and Drake Turnbull finished with eight, all from the line.

    For the Rangers, Truxal led the way with 19 points and Tyler Schlapkohl contributed nine, but both of them were scoreless at halftime.

    The Scots, who placed fifth in the HP Scot Classic tournament over the weekend, will next travel to McKinney on Dec. 2. The Rangers will travel to Plano on Saturday.

    By Todd Jorgenson Nov. 25, 2014 | 11:22 pm | No Comments | Comments RSS

  • ‘Art of Racing in Rain’ Use Upheld in HPISD

    Highland Park ISD’s reconsideration committee has decided to uphold use of Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain following a meeting Monday night.

    The full report includes:

    • What elements the committee voted on (purpose, authenticity, appropriateness, and content)
    • How many members voted “yes” or “no” on those elements. For example, all 12 members said the book accomplished its purpose and exhibited authenticity, but 11 of the 12 voted “yes” on appropriateness. Ten voters said the content of the book was “well presented,” while one voted “no” and one voted “undecided.”
    • Links to two reviews on the book that were used — one negative from The Houston Chronicle and one positive from Booklist.

    The supporting documents include:

    • Committee guidelines
    • Learning objectives
    • More reviews from various sources
    • Emails among committee members
    • Community questionnaires from committee members
    • District book list — including which texts are required reading or in classroom use, and which books are used for what grade level

    For English II Standard, The Art of Racing in the Rain is listed under the third six-weeks’ unit, entitled “Lessons for Understanding Others.”

    The “text rationale” reads:

    This book is recommended by committee more for a TAG class (sophomore-senior level). It provides a unique writing style, being from a dog’s point of view, of a compelling story realistically told. Free of human agendas, Enzo is able to see the unfolding human story both dispassionately and empathetically. The book combines high interest subjects (car racing) with family issues which have universal applications as well as deeper messages of commitment, friendship, determination, responsibility, etc.

    Under “possible objections,” the rationale goes on to state that “committee feels that these occurrences are not out of character with the overall book or topics to which adolescents are exposed in media.”

    The supporting documents link also includes the results of an activity in which each committee member was given three dots to vote three times on their preferred action, such as “confirm the present use of the book for whole class required use” and “determine the book is not educationally appropriate.”

    There were 32 votes for “confirm the present use of the book for whole class required use;” three votes for “designate the book for required outside reading only;” and one vote for “restrict the use for certain grades.”

    As it has been highly publicized, the committee conducted their review following the Policy EFA (LOCAL) procedure.

    By Sarah Bennett Nov. 25, 2014 | 4:01 pm | 3 Comments | Comments RSS

  • HPDPS Trying to Nab Vehicle Burglary Suspects

    Highland Park police are looking for this man, who is suspected of using stolen credit cards at Walmart. (Photo: HPDPS)

    Highland Park police are looking for this man, who is suspected of using stolen credit cards at Walmart. (Photo: HPDPS)

    The Highland Park Department of Public Safety recently arrested three suspects in connection with a string of vehicle burglaries, and is requesting your help in finding a fourth.

    HPDPS arrested the first suspect on Nov. 13 and two others on Nov. 21, in the process returning some of the stolen property to the victims. But not all of the offenses were connected to these suspects, according to Sgt. Lance Koppa.

    Specifically, police are searching for someone who used stolen credit cards at various Walmart stores in the Dallas area that were taken from vehicles in HP. In most instances, the cards were used shortly after they were taken, and since the burglaries took place in the overnight hours, the cards weren’t reported stolen until after they had been used multiple times. The most popular purchases, perhaps not surprisingly, were gift cards.

    We’ll update with more information as it becomes available. In the meantime, anybody with information is asked to call HPDPS at 214-521-5000.

    By Todd Jorgenson Nov. 25, 2014 | 3:47 pm | No Comments | Comments RSS

  • VNA Raises $25K With Power of Pie

    The second annual installment of the VNA Meals on Wheels Power of Pie fundraiser has raised almost $25,000 for the program, and donors will begin to reap the benefits tomorrow.

    That’s when customers can pick up the pies they ordered from 11 a.m. to noon in the activities room at Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church.

    Among those baking the pies were Empire Baking Company, Central Market, Hilton Anatole, Abacus, Kent Rathbun Concepts, Four Seasons Resort and Club, Norma’s Café, Spoon Bar and Kitchen, Knife Modern Steak, Front Room Tavern, Brookhollow Country Club, Lakewood Country Club, Café Momentum, 3015 @ Trinity Groves, Bark Chocolate, Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, Haute Sweets Patisserie, Parigi, Collin County Community College, Susie’s Cuisine, Uncle Willie’s Pies, Pie Flutin Pastries, Cydonia, Dessert Dreams Inc., and Karen Cassady.

    By Todd Jorgenson Nov. 25, 2014 | 2:48 pm | No Comments | Comments RSS

  • Police Report: November 10 to November 16


    SKULDUGGERY OF THE WEEK: Heavy Lifting

    At 1:15 p.m. on Nov. 13, a burglar broke into a red 2009 Chrysler 300 at Miracle Mileand stole a Tom Ford purse, a Nancy Gonzalez purse, and two Prada purses with a combined value of $10,950. While trying to flee, the perpetrator ran into a parked black 2009 Cadillac Escalade, causing $1,000 in damage.


    HIGHLAND PARK

    10 MONDAY
    Between 4:15 and 5 p.m., a thief stole a leather wallet containing $125 in cash from a purse inside a shopping cart at Whole Foods Market in the 4100 block of Lomo Alto Drive.

    11 TUESDAY
    At 1:36 a.m., a thief stole $60 in cash from a 2011 GMC Yukon in the 3500 block of Potomac Avenue. The perpetrator was spotted on video jumping a fence from the alley to reach the driveway, where the SUV was parked.

    Between 5 p.m. on Nov. 10 and 6:30 a.m. on Nov. 11, a thief stole a $400 pair of Persol sunglasses and a $150 pair of headphones from an unlocked black 2003 Chevrolet Tahoe in the 3700 block of Potomac Avenue. The miscreant also took a fire extinguisher, a credit-card case, and paperwork from an unlocked black 2010 GMC Yukon in front of the same house.

    Between 9 and 9:45 a.m., a thief stole $2,250 worth of tools from a metal box at a construction site in the 5000 block of Airline Road. The stolen items included two saws and a generator.

    At 3:26 p.m., three shoplifters stole a $4,800 Chanel tote bag from the Chanel store at Highland Park Village. They fled on foot toward Preston Road.

    12 WEDNESDAY
    Between 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 11 and 6 a.m. on Nov. 12, a thief entered an unlocked black 2008 Honda Accord in the 3200 block of St. Johns Avenue and stole a $200 pair of earphones and a $100 pair of Cole Haan sunglasses.

    At 4:58 p.m., Wesley Warfield, 30, of Dallas was arrested in the5000 block of Lemmon Avenue on a theft charge.

    13 THURSDAY
    At 2:45 p.m., Kim Andrew Mason, 40, of Dallas was arrested in the4200 block of Lemmon Avenue on a charge of burglary of a habitation.

    14 FRIDAY
    Between 5 p.m. on Nov. 13 and 7:20 a.m. on Nov. 14, a thief entered an unlocked black 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe in the 4300 block of Edmondson Avenue and stole an $800 Beretta Panther pistol with three loaded magazines, as well as a $50 flashlight, a small bag containing $30 in coins, and a fanny pack.

    Between 8 p.m. on Nov. 13 and 8 a.m. on Nov. 14, a thief entered a black 2014 BMW sedan and a black 2007 Mercedes 320 in the4300 block of Southern Avenue, and stole a credit card from one and a debit card from the other.

    At 5:15 p.m., a vandal used a projectile to shatter a second-story window in a house in the 3500 block of Beverly Drive. Police suspect the shot might have come from an adjacent house for sale that is rarely occupied.

    15 SATURDAY
    At 11:30 p.m., Walter D. Warren, 27, of Dallas was arrested in the3900 block of Mockingbird Lane on multiple weapons and drug charges. Jabri Tyrell Williams, 26, of Dallas was arrested on a charge of carrying a prohibited weapon and multiple drug charges.


    UNIVERSITY PARK

    10 MONDAY
    Between 9:45 and 10:45 a.m., a burglar broke into a gold 2005 Lexus RX350 at the Park Cities YMCA and stole a $200 Coach purse containing a $200 Coach wallet, a $100 Coach coin purse, and $100 in cash.

    At 4:55 p.m., a thief stole a $500 Trek boys bicycle from inside a doorway at Snider Plaza.

    At 11:30 p.m., Thomas Wadhams, 22, of Dallas; Robert Burns, 23, of Dallas; and Nemanja Petkovic, 22, of Dallas were each arrested during a traffic stop in the 7800 block of Lomo Alto Drive and charged with possession of marijuana.

    11 TUESDAY
    Between Oct. 15 and Nov. 11, a thief stole an $1,800 Technics turntable, a $400 iPad Mini, a $400 bracelet, a $350 pair of Gucci sunglasses, a $350 pair of Yves Saint Laurent sunglasses, a $275 pair of earrings, a $269 pair of Beats headphones, and a $200 iPhone from a house in the 4300 block of Glenwick Lane.

    Between 6 p.m. on Nov. 10 and 6 a.m. on Nov. 11, a thief entered an unlocked gray 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee in the 3400 block of Potomac Avenue and stole a $100 purse containing $40 in cash. During the same time frame, a thief stole a $750 Louis Vuitton wallet from an unlocked gray 2013 Lexus LX570 in the same block.

    Between 9 p.m. on Nov. 10 and 10:10 a.m. on Nov. 11, a thief entered an unlocked white 2010 Lexus RX350 in the 3400 block of Normandy Avenue and stole a $300 Marc Jacobs wallet containing $100 in cash.

    13 THURSDAY
    At 2:11 a.m., someone started banging on the door of a home in the 3400 block of Binkley Avenue. Thomas Pearce Howell, 20, of University Park was arrested on a charge of consumption of alcohol by a minor.

    14 FRIDAY
    Between 11:54 a.m. and 2 p.m., a thief stole an $850 iPhone 6 from a front porch in the 3400 block of Amherst Street.

    15 SATURDAY
    At 3:27 a.m., Tyler Grant Jackson, 22 of Dallas was arrested in the2900 block of SMU Boulevard on a public intoxication charge.

    At 4:25 a.m., Andrew R. Brown, 22, of Austin was arrested in the2900 block of Bryn Mawr Drive on a public intoxication charge.

    At 7:50 p.m., Andrew Keith George, 22, of Richardson was arrested in the 6500 block of North Central Expressway on a charge of driving while intoxicated.

    16 SUNDAY
    At 4:44 a.m., a burglar broke into Chiladas Fresh Mex Grill atMiracle Mile and stole more than $1,800 in cash and some office equipment.

    Between 6 p.m. on Nov. 15 and 6 a.m. on Nov. 16, a thief stole a $25 wallet from an unlocked gray 2005 GMC Yukon in the 2800 block of McFarlin Boulevard. During the same time frame, a thief stole $15 in cash from an unlocked blue 2003 Toyota Avalon in the 2900 block of McFarlin.

    Between 1 and 10:15 a.m., a thief stole a $300 Louis Vuitton wallet from an unlocked white 2012 Mercury E350 in the 2800 block of Fondren Drive. During the same time frame, a scoundrel rummaged through an unlocked black 2007 Lexus ES350 in the 2900 block of Fondren, but nothing was missing.


    DALLAS

    Due to a records system change in the records at the Dallas Police Department, Dallas reports are unavailable this week. We are working with DPD to obtain relevant incident reports and hope to resume providing them soon.


    EDITOR’S NOTE:  Every Tuesday we send out a list of crimes committed in the previous week to subscribers of our Park Cities People Police Report newsletter. We’re going to start posting these crime reports a week later on our blog. If you don’t want to be behind, subscribe today.

    By Todd Jorgenson Nov. 25, 2014 | 1:31 pm | No Comments | Comments RSS

  • Santa Will be at The Bush Center Friday

    The replica of the 2002 tree stands complete with bird ornaments from all 50 states. (Staff photo: Sarah Bennett)

    The replica of the 2002 tree stands complete with bird ornaments from all 50 states. (Staff photo: Sarah Bennett)

    Last week, we got the chance to take a sneak peek at the George W. Bush Presidential Center’s Christmas display, “All Creatures Great and Small.” The exhibit is a replica of the 2002 theme when President Bush was in office. That year, each governor had an artist from their state design an ornament with a bird that represented that state. You can see those creations on the Bush Center’s tree this year.

    Not only will you catch the bird ornaments, but you will also see papier-mâché replicas of presidential pets through the ages. That doesn’t just mean the Bushes’ famous pups, Barney and Miss Beazley (Miss Beazley wasn’t even born until 2004) — that means Coolidge’s raccoons, Woodrow Wilson’s sheep, and Teddy Roosevelt’s Shetland pony. Seriously.

    Though the display clearly showcases a wide range of animals, there are also mementos from the holidays during the Bush presidency, such as dinner invitations, drafts of speeches, Christmas cards, gifts from the public, and even a brass menorah from a congregation in Philadelphia.

    A good time to catch all of this is Friday, Nov. 28. Forget Black Friday crowds — get off the couch and away from the leftovers and check out the exhibit, and catch a glimpse of Santa Claus. From 5 to 8 p.m., he will be accompanied by live music, as well as arts and crafts for the kids. There’s also a free shuttle from Mockingbird Station until 8 p.m., if you’re in too much of a turkey coma to deal with parking.

    By Sarah Bennett Nov. 25, 2014 | 12:38 pm | No Comments | Comments RSS

    Sponsored Content
  • Dallas Summer Musicals’ Kids Club

    DSM Kids Club

    Dallas Summer Musicals’ A CHRISTMAS STORY-THE MUSICAL Kids Club is Saturday, December 6th from 11:30 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. at the Music Hall at Fair Park in the West Lobby. Kids Club membership is free and a fun way for children to learn about the performing arts. Kids attend these pre-show events where they can join in fun activities, dance to favorite show tunes, win prizes, do arts and crafts and learn about Broadway. Not a member of Kids Club? sign up here.

    Show tickets are not required for Kids Club, but if you’d like to attend A CHRISTMAS STORY-THE MUSICAL it begins at 1:30 p.m. – tickets.

     

    By Patricia Martin Nov. 25, 2014 | 8:30 am | No Comments | Comments RSS
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