In this week's roundup of city news, DISD has instituted a bold new approach to disciplining middle school and high school students. Amazon outlaid a big chunk of money to grow wages in Dallas. There's a shiny new library in the Lake Highlands neighborhood. And Dallas' Parks Department won an award.
Here's what happened in Dallas this week:
DISD reset centers
Dallas Independent School District has a new approach on how it will address issues with student behavior on middle and high school campuses: They're doing away with suspensions and have created "reset centers" in their 52 middle and high schools which give students a place to cool down and refocus.
The change is partly to address the fact that most suspensions are given to minority students. According to their data, of the students who were given out-of-school suspensions during the 2019-2020 school year, 52 percent were African American, 44 percent were Hispanic, and 2.4 percent were white. "We're just trying to address something that has been going on for a long time," said Pierre Fleurinor, a reset coordinator for Dallas ISD.
The Dallas Regional Chamber received a $260,000 contribution from Amazon to help fund the DRC's strategic priorities for sustainable economic growth, education and workforce development, and building a more inclusive community.
More than half of the money will focus on growing wages and talent in the region through the Dallas Thrives initiative, which seeks to increase the number of young adults earning a living wage. Dallas Thrives is a community initiative launched in November 2020 that aims to double living wages in a single generation. Amazon raised its minimum hiring wage to $15 for all U.S. full-time, part-time, and seasonal employees. Jobs in fulfillment and transportation pay an average starting wage of more than $18 per hour. The company anticipates adding 17,000 new jobs in Texas.
Amazon is also presenting sponsor of HackDFW on October 1-3, a weekend-long innovation marathon connecting 500 engineering and tech professionals, students, and enthusiasts to create new software and hardware products.
The new Forest Green Branch of the Dallas Public Library opens on September 25 at 9619 Greenville Ave., a 5-minute walk from its former location on Forest Lane.
The old Forest Green Branch was built in 1976, and was the smallest of all the Dallas Public Library locations. The new building is 10,000 square feet larger, and features flexible classroom space, enhanced meeting rooms, small conference rooms, 20 public computers, and an outdoor space for community gatherings.
It also includes specialty technology, furniture, and equipment to encourage early literacy and STEM learning, funded by more than $100,000 worth of donations through the Friends of the Dallas Public Library in honor of Karen Blumenthal, a long-time library supporter who died last year.
Youth voter registration drive
Tuesday, September 28 is National Voter Registration Day, and MOVE Texas, a youth-oriented nonprofit, will be hosting youth-powered voter registration drives in cities across Texas including Austin, Dallas, Laredo, San Antonio, and Corpus Christi. In Dallas, the drive will be at Dallas College on the Richland campus at 12800 Abrams Rd., from 9 am-10 pm.
Dallas parks award
Dallas Park and Recreation Department recently earned national accreditation in the field of parks and recreation through the Commission for Accreditation of Parks and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA) and National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). This is the only national accreditation for park and recreation agencies and is a measure of an agency's quality of operation, management and service to the community.
Dallas is among 20 municipal park and recreation departments in Texas to be accredited.