Community Meetings Scheduled on Small Schools’ Possible Closure

Board of Education vote on four elementary schools postponed at April meeting

April 15, 2011
HISD has scheduled additional community meetings to discuss the possibility of closing or consolidating several small schools. A scheduled Board of Education vote on four elementary schools was postponed this week so those campuses (Love, Grimes, Rhoads, and McDade) could be considered in context with all HISD elementary schools with fewer than 400 students and all middle schools with fewer than 500 students.

There are 17 such schools under consideration: Memorial, Paige, N. Q. Henderson, Port Houston, Gordon, Pleasantville, Stevenson, Houston Gardens, Burrus, Rhoads, Grimes, McDade, and Love Elementary; and Ryan, M. C. Williams, Key, and Black Middle.

The first four meetings are as follows.
BurrusWednesday, April 205:30—7:00 p.m.Burrus
N. Q. HendersonWednesday, April 205:30—7:00 p.m.N. Q. Henderson
Port HoustonWednesday, April 205:30—7:00 p.m.Port Houston
StevensonWednesday, April 205:30—7:00 p.m.Stevenson
Community meetings have already been held at Love, Grimes, Rhoads, and McDade. A schedule of meetings for the other schools will be released as soon as details are available.

The discussion about closing and consolidating small schools began as part of the district’s efforts to balance its 2011–12 budget in the wake of an expected $160 million funding cut from the State of Texas and increases in fixed costs of $11 million.

But a discussion on the larger issue of whether small schools can continue to provide an adequate education with less money was spurred after the projected state funding cuts forced the Board to reduce the amount of money all schools receive per student by $275. Small schools also absorbed an additional $266-per-student reduction in the annual small school subsidy they receive. This is the first time the Board has ever been asked to cut per-student funding to schools.

Closing small schools would mean students from those schools would be consolidated into nearby campuses. Since the funding follows the student, those consolidated schools would have more total funding to serve students and would be in a better position to keep employees small schools might have to consider cutting or sharing, such as nurses, librarians, and music and art teachers.

The district first looked at the Central Office for budget cuts. The HISD Board of Education has approved the elimination of 277 Central Office jobs. So far, the district has identified more than $100 million in cuts, leaving a projected gap of $65 million.