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PETER O'DONNELL, JR. 100 Grescenr Gourr. Sure 1690 Danas, ‘Texas 75201-1637 214/856-8080 + Bx 214/855-8088 InvesTMENTS May 12, 2009 Dr. Michael Hinojosa Superintendent Dallas Independent School District 3700 Ross Avenue Dallas, Texas 75204 Dear Dr. Hinojosa: On several occasions I have expressed to you my concem about cuts in funding for magnet schools. The first occasion was on July 17, 2006 at a lunch hosted by you and Don Williams to raise private donations to fund the Dallas Achieves Road to Broad initiative. My concern was based on a Dallas Morning News article of May 15, 2006 which ] brought to the meeting and read. The article quoted you as saying that funds must be reallocated in order to boost achievement in low-performing schools and that the magnet schools will have to chip in. I understood your response to me to be that you denied there would be an attempt to reduce magnet school funding. ‘The most recent occasion was during a meeting in your office on January 5, 2009 when I stated that I saw indications that the foundations necessary for successful programs were being eroded at DISD and specifically referred to reduced funding for magnet schools. During that meeting, and in your subsequent letter of January 29, 2009, your response was, “The budget for magnet schools has not been reduced.” Apparently my concems were well founded despite assurances I was given that this would not be the case. On Thursday, the board is being asked to consider cuts in the teaching staffs at the Arts Magnet, TAG, SEM and other magnets. Sadly the consequence of this action is easy to foresee. I predict that there will be an erosion of the teacher corps, with some of the splendid teachers who are responsible for producing excellent results at the Arts Magnet, TAG and SEM beginning to leave in search of other opportunities. Dr. Michael Hinojosa Page Two May 12, 2009 DISD consistently receives a great deal of favorable national attention, due in large part to these outstanding teachers. For example, the U.S. Department of Education ranked the Arts Magnet 8th in the nation among all magnet schools this year. Records also indicate that Advanced Placement flourishes in magnet schools. Success in AP is what gives students the opportunity to show what they can do and develop a transcript that gains favorable attention from college admission officers and scholarship committees: © In 2002 and again in 2003, the College Board reported that more African American and Hispanic students at SEM passed AP calculus exams than minorities at any other high school in the nation—public or private. © In Newsweek's 2008 Top 100 AP/IB High Schools in the United States, TAG ranks number 2 and SEM ranks number 4. © In 2008, U.S. News and World Report analyzed more than 21,000 public schools nationwide to find which ones best prepare students for college. SEM ranked number 18 in the nation and TAG ranked 28". © Newsweek ranked SEM among the top 10 American high schools in 2005 and 2006. © In 2006 TAG was Newsweek's pick for the Number 1 Advanced Placement High School in the US and SEM was its pick for Number 8. The outstanding AP teachers at the magnet schools have made DISD’s AP incentive program a national model that is being replicated in other states. If, in fact as the Dallas Morning News reports this morning, the district has been advised by TEA that the seven magnet schools can be excluded from the Title I Comparability requirements, I would ask you to publicly rescind your recommendation to the board that academic staffing be reduced at the magnet schools. Dr. Michael Hinojosa Page Three May 12, 2009 I, along with many other citizens, have made substantial donations to the Arts Magnet capital campaign, the largest public school capital campaign in DISD history. I believe that DISD has an obligation to assure these donors that the district will do ail possible to preserve its high academic standards by taking action to assure its teaching staff there they are appreciated and will be rewarded. Therefore, I am sending a copy of this letter to each of the donors so they will know the reasons for my concern. I welcome your comments. Sincerely yours, [& D frnmed A : Peter O'Donnell, Jr. Ce: DISD Board of Trustees Donors to the Arts Magnet Building Campaign J. McDonald Williams