Dallas (Dallas County)

Urban Park School, Dallas. Credit: Michael Cagle for Preservation Dallas.

Dallas Independent School District (DISD) released a proposed Strategic Facilities Plan calling for the demolition of nineteen schools, the majority of which are of historic-age, to be replaced with seventeen new schools. The justification for the demolitions is to reduce the average age of schools in the district from 51.7 years to 46.0 years to get more in line with the national average of 44 years. The schools proposed for demolition range in style from revivalist to mid-century, many designed by significant architects, and scattered throughout Dallas. The proposal must be adopted by the DISD Board of Trustees, whose staff is working quickly so they can figure out the logistics of such a huge construction project. Their plan is for voter approval of $2 billion in bond money in 2021 for the massive project.

The goal of preservation advocates in Dallas is to lower the number of historic schools recommended for demolition or to consider rehabilitation as an alternative by changing the Strategic Facilities Plan. We need to prove that historic schools are a valuable resource for the community and can be adapted to modern needs. The case must be made that it is a waste of resources to demolish a school that is 50 to 100 years old and has stood the test of time to be replaced with a new school with typically a much shorter life cycle and one that can’t match the quality of materials with which historic schools were built.