For now, at least. The other two are still on the block.
Three small schools will be spared from closure at the urging of Houston school board president Juliet Stipeche, but Jones High and Dodson Elementary remain on the potential chopping block.
Facing mounting community pressure against Superintendent Terry Grier’s closure proposal, Stipeche eliminated Fleming Middle School, Port Houston Elementary and N.Q. Henderson Elementary from the closure list.
The board is set to decide the fate of Jones and Dodson next Thursday. Grier has said the two buildings are needed to house students whose campuses are being rebuilt under the 2012 voter-approved bond program.
“I respect our board president’s request to remove these schools from consideration,” Grier said in a statement. “I also appreciate her input, the input of all trustees and the community-at-large in this process.”
Stipeche said she thought N.Q. Henderson Elementary and Fleming Middle School, both in northeast Houston, deserved more time to try to improve and recruit more students.
“They serve communities in transition,” she said. “They should have the opportunity to work on increasing their enrollment.”
“Port Houston is an interesting set of circumstances because it’s an exemplary school in a small building,” she added.
Board member Mike Lunceford said the trustees need to review their policy on closures to perhaps distinguish between schools like Port Houston that are small because the neighborhood has few students, and those like Jones High where students are choosing to enroll elsewhere.
“We need to sit down as a board and decide what to do,” he said. “Are we going to continue supporting small schools? If the board’s not going to vote, we need to not put the communities through all of this.”
See here, here, and here for the background. I think Stipeche and Lunceford’s logic here is sound. For some neighborhoods it may make more sense, and be more cost-effective, to maintain a smaller school than to have to provide transportation elsewhere for all the affected students. Reviewing the policy to draw distinctions between schools in less-populated areas and schools that aren’t drawing in as many students as they could is a good idea, too. Hair Balls and Stace have more.