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HISD proposes closing five schools

Not sure about this.

Houston ISD officials are proposing to close five small schools at the end of this academic year, a move likely to set off protests from parents and alumni.

Some on the school board – which ultimately must approve the plan – already are expressing concerns about the closures, which would affect more than 2,000 students.

The campuses slated to close are Jones High School, Fleming Middle School, and Dodson, N.Q. Henderson and Port Houston elementary schools, according to Houston Independent School District spokeswoman Sheleah Reed.

The district posted news of the potential closures on the schools’ websites Wednesday, saying that they were “part of a plan designed to address fluctuating enrollment and changing demographics across the city.”

The schools each enroll fewer than 500 students, according to 2013 district data. In many cases, numerous students who live in the neighborhood transfer to attend other HISD campuses or leave for charter schools.

Jones High School in southeast Houston, once a thriving campus that launched the district’s Vanguard program for gifted students, enrolled 440 students last year, according to district data. More than 900 students zoned to Jones, however, left to other HISD high schools, with about half attending Milby and Chavez, each about 7 miles away.

“Something needs to be offered at that school. If it can be offered at Chavez, it can be offered at Jones,” said Cheryl Diggs, a 1988 Jones graduate who owns property in the nearby South Park neighborhood. “Give the students a reason to stay. It makes no sense.”

See School Zone and Hair Balls for more; the latter provided this link to HISD’s campus demographic and enrollment report. I get the rationale behind this, but it’s not clear to me that having a few smaller schools in a huge and diverse district like HISD is a bad idea. Maybe offering some kind of specialized programming at these campuses is a superior alternative to closing them. Closing schools can have a profound effect on a neighborhood, which is probably why at least three trustees so far – Paula Harris, Rhonda Skillern-Jones, and Juliet Stipeche – have had negative reactions. Whether this proposal ultimately makes sense or not, this is going to be a tough sell for HISD. A press release panning the idea from Working America is beneath the fold.

Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, released a statement in response to Houston Independent School District’s (HISD) proposal to close five schools at the end of the 2013-2014 school year:

Texas currently ranks 49th out of 50 states when it comes to how much we spend on every student in our classrooms. Yesterday, Houston residents were shocked to learn that this trend of stripping resources from our communities would continue with the proposed closure of 5 schools at the end of the 2013-14 school year. Since the start of the 2013 school year, Working America Texas has been galvanizing Houston communities to take a stand against this trend of defunding education. By going door to door, we have collected over 4,900 signatures on a petition from Houstonians concerned about the quality of education, the high dropout rates, and the lack financially transparency by the HISD.

“I don’t understand how HISD could consider closing five schools just weeks after giving Superintendent Terry Grier a $125,000 bonus,” says parent Michael Hicks, of Houston. “I find it disturbing that once again, we’re closing more schools. My tax dollars belong in the classroom, not the pockets of school administrators,” he concluded.

“Our over13,000 members in Houston don’t understand how we’re considering school closures after residents voted to pass an astonishing $2 billion bond to build more schools,” said Working America Texas State Director Durrel Douglas. “Our members tell us every day that they want great public schools and this is clearly not a step in that direction for our city. Houston is growing at a rapid pace, and we are setting ourselves up for failure if we do not have a first-class class public education system that can meet the needs of the people. We will keep the pressure on the HISD school board and will continue to hold them accountable to the needs of Houstonians,” said Douglas.

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3 Comments

  1. Ross says:

    The comment on the bond issue is disingenuous, since there aren’t really any new schools being built, just replacements for existing buildings that are past their useful life.

    The comments also fail to reflect the reality that there just isn’t a lot of money out there for underperforming schools, and realistically, there will be no tax increases to provide additional funding. If HISD can provide an improved overall educational experience by closing smaller schools, then perhaps that’s the right approach

  2. Charles X Whit e says:

    Charity Productions Since 1984 8607 MLK Houston, Texas 77033 713-292-3436 – cpxw@hotmail.comhttp://www.charity-productions.org

    February 13, 2014
    Houston Independent School District Board of Trustees and Terry Grier, Superintendent 4400 West 18th Street Houston, TX 77092-8501
    Dear Board Members and Superintendent Grier:
    On behalf of the members and participants of the Community Partnership Exchange Breakfast, Charity Productions service areas, taxpayers those that voted for and those that voted against the bond we are making an unusual request based on current unusual circumstances to have an immediate halt to the process that would lead to the closing of any HISD school. We are requesting that Dr. Grier be fired or resign immediately. We are requesting an accounting of all school closings records at the districts expense, to be made available by the end of February 2014, to a team of subject matter experts selected by various groups currently protesting the actions of HISD.
    If these request will not be honored in a timely fashion or a written response with a framework to accomplish these requests are not provided within the next 72 hours we will be forced to exercise our options constitutional and otherwise. Filing the appropriate forms with the civil rights divisions to request Oversight, policy review and audit of HISD immediately by the Justice Department, the Department of Education and the Texas Education Agency. By giving you this notice of our intent and lack of confidence in the district’s decision making process at this time by repeatedly skewing data with in house peer reviews negatively impacting African American and Hispanic populations with discriminatory policies that result in counterproductive outcomes for both communities particularly closing of schools. (Low graduation rates, high drop and truancy rates)
    Dr. Grier and Board you are well aware of the positive benefits of communities and schools working together and yet you are working in the opposite direction. According to Robert D. Putnam, Professor’s book “Better Together” the district should rethink all closures as well as proposed.
    Below are some additional points for our requests:
    • WE would like for you to resign immediately without a buyout package based on your discriminatory practices, poor performance and academic leadership. (Integrated Technology – Instructional Resources diverted)
    • WE would like you to resign in light of the poor fiscal accountability related funds not being applied and moved to other accounts (Grimes Elementary for one example) (Apollo)
    • WE would like you to resign in light of the second round of assaults you are proposing for additional school closing specifically targeting African American and Hispanic schools.
    • WE would like you to resign in light of the recommendations from former Senator Mario Gallegos not to approve any of your recommendations for changes in the schools.
    • WE would like you to resign in light Ryan Middle school bait and switch with African American Students that are zoned and only 11% being accepted into the renamed school.
    • WE would like you to resign in light of the HISD advertising to the public – vote for a new Jones High and now you are proposing to close Jones High School based on low enrollment. (the low enrollment was created by the district by removing a high performing program therefore contributing or causing the low enrollment)
    • WE would like you to resign in light of the discriminatory practices with African American architects, vendors and contractors related to the bond projects.
    • WE would like you to resign in light of the contrived, staged and non-productive community meetings that you host without any independent assessment of the districts use of the information collected at those meetings.
    • We would like you to resign in light of the appearance of conflict of interest with board members/superintendent with vendors and change orders cost overruns. (assessments)
    Enclosing Dr. Grier and Board the community has afforded you much latitude to advance positive programs that could develop positive outcomes that would demonstrate positive leadership and growth in the area of education. No amount of national awards can remove the direct assault that you have initiated and the board has allowed your short sighted policies have a cascading negative impact injected into the life of communities throughout, Houston.
    Concerned
    Charles X White, Executive Director – Convener of the Community Partnership Exchange Breakfast
    Sunny Side/South Park Super Neighborhood, President
    Cc.
    Texas Education Agency Commission Michael Williams, Commissioner William B. Travis Building 1701 N. Congress Avenue Austin, Texas, 78701
    U.S. Department of Education Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education 400 Maryland Avenues, SW Washington, D.C. 20202
    United States Justice Department Eric Holder, Attorney General 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20530-0001

  3. Charles X White says:

    Terry Grier Should be put on Trial as Serial School Killer – FIRE terry grier
    By Charles X White – 713-292-3436 2/16/2014 Revised

    At the school board meeting on February 13, a former student from Jones High School in two minutes by the numbers dismantled the in – house study that HISD is floating to the public to justify closing of five additional schools. The former Jones student DEBUNKED and CHALLENGED HISD’s staff that prepared the flawed and skewed document. Black Houston – no all Houston would have been very proud of her, oh, did I mention she has a PhD in Urban Planning.

    HISD created the condition of low enrollment by removing good programs from Jones and other schools therefore parents will send their children where the good programs are located. Blame the victim! In X – Superintendent Grier’s editorial in the Houston Chronicle provided double talk combined with non-related now and future facts and said nothing. These links may help you understand why elected officials are silent or paying lip service on issues related to communities of color.

    No amount of national awards or grants can cover-up the attempted MURDER of communities of color by serial school killer X-Superintendent Terry Grier. Under this superintendent the Apollo program is a failure and many other initiatives but we are only hearing of those through employees and former employees who are victimized by Terry Grier’s Bullying and policies. The Houston Independent School District is heavily influenced by the Downtown Chamber or the Houston Partnership. School Board Members like former school board member Larry Marshall who headed the HISD Board consult and take some directions from the down town chamber.

    Please don’t accept any excuses that a politician may offer even if it sounds reasonable, ask for the written copy of the facts. My definition of a politician is – “someone who wants you to believe something that you can’t verify.” A figure and talking head combined or symbol without substance.

    We have requested HISD subject matter experts to verses our subject matter experts’ assessment/recommendations with the districts bean counters, educators and researchers with no results, as of yet.

    There are volumes of research that provides overwhelming evidence that Terry Grier’s leadership or policies to close certain schools is wrong and not necessary. The simple explanation is FOLLOW THE MONEY. Parts of Houston are facing a continuation of the “Desert Syndrome” Metro is planning a transportation desert, a food desert already exists and the banking industry started the modern era of deserts when they closed most of their banks in the 1980s. There is a study by a University of Houston Professor on pager 16 of the “Briefing Book Sunny Side”, residents spend $22 million dollars outside of their area. The questions are and the solution process should be, how much is left to spend in the area and how much growth could be added if there were planned programs and economic development instead of planned gentrification, school closings and city ordinances to aid the process of governmental predators in zips where people of color reside, can you say cash cow. (Theft by Ordinance)

    What the reader must put into perspective – All elected officials are linked to the wishes and plans of the power structure of this city. They somehow attend press conferences to get us to buy or vote for something and mysteriously disappear when good public policy or a good public action is needed. Remember when all those state representatives ask us to pass the BOND and remember the sign saying Vote YES for a new Jones High School. The REAL ESTATE plans of the urban areas where 90% are in zip codes where African Americans and Hispanics reside. To really understand why now and how over the past 25 years, the plans to recapture the real estate in the urban areas is part of a complex multi-jurisdictional and private sector combined CAPITAL GAINES application. Elected officials are very much aware of the plans, process and goal of why the land grab in urban areas is a top priority. Can you say SUPER BOWL 2017, Mo $$$?

    Beaumont and Port Arthur, Texas school districts rebuilt schools on existing sites with no drop in – enrollment because programs stayed in place. People will travel all over the world for a good education, so when HISD decided to move programs from existing schools located in the black community parents moved their children where the quality programs were being offered. The Jones Vanguard program gained national awards in the current Jones location and maintained the national status at the second location in the black community, not at the new location.

    X-Superintendent and co-collaborator Larry Marshall former HISD trustee who still may be at the center of an on-going investigation was at the root of all the rumors about inappropriate behavior in the interview AND hiring process of X-Superintendent Grier. X-Superintendent Grier in an interview with a local newscaster admitted HISD was known as a pay for play district and as we know now he has been paid very well on several sides.

    Objectives and Goals:
    1. Fire Terry Grier and Hold Board Members Accountable
    2. Put Programs Back in Neighborhood Schools
    3. Don’t Be Misdirected by So-called Leaders and Organizations

    Next Action: North Side Community Partnership Exchange Breakfast – No Charge – First Come First Serve
    • Location: 7450 N. Wayside Eden Event Center Houston, Texas 77028
    • Time: 9:00am
    • Date: February 27, 2014
    • Task: Add Your Signature to the Federal Title VI Complaints with the US Justice Department and the US Department of Education

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