Thursday, May 7, 2009

Houston Elementary on the Chopping Block

Representative Susie Byrd sent this urgent message:

"The School District has done it again. They are proceeding fast and furious to close down Houston Elementary. I had heard from Carlos Flores some time ago that they were considering this. He assured me that me and the neighborhood would be included in the discussion. They had their first meeting tonight. I was never notified. As far as I know, no adjacent neighbors were notifed. No associations were notified.

Here are my concerns and why I think we should act to stop this now.

1. That school will remain vacant and be a huge blight on the neighborhood. Same as the McKee Home but times 10. They are saying that all of the schools in the neighborhood are under capacity. If that was the case, they should have never built Paul Moreno and should have instead invested in our oldest schools in need of the most repair.

2. Small neighborhood schools have the best outcomes for kids. The district is more and more only interested in building mega-campuses which are bad for neighborhoods and bad for kids.

3. They are planning on moving most of the kids to Paul Moreno. This will significantly increase the distance between home and school for most of these kids, increasing the likelihood that the kids will no longer walk and increasing congestion up to Paul Moreno.

The district is planning another meeting for May 13th and then they are going to make the decision on May 26. I just talked to a Times reporter who said that she thinks this is only the beginning of school closures, moving more and more to the model of the mega-school. Our small neighborhood schools like Rusk, like Crockett, like Alta Vista, like Hillside, don't fit that model.

I think I am going to go to the school district meeting on Tuesday and speak under call to the public. I think we should try to get a bunch of folks together to let them know that we are concerned and we think that this whole path is ill advised.

If you are interested in this issue, please email me at

County Commissioner, Veronica Escobar, adds:

"Houston is, indeed, only the first of central-area schools that will be shut down. This is awful news, not just for Central residents, who will be forced to live with blight created by the ISD, but it's horrible for all school district taxpayers. School districts are the biggest chunk of our property tax bill, they keep building and building new schools, when we have great infrastructure in the center of our city that will last 100 years. And they're emptying those out for new structures (paid for by all of us) in outlying areas. I haven't heard the district's rationale yet for closure, but it's hard for me to believe that Paul Moreno School was built while we had a declining population. I need to see their presentation, but I am very much against this closure."

1 comment:

Matthew Venhaus said...

EPISD is showing why the school districts should be required to pay stormwater fees and why permit fees should not be waived for new construction. Without sufficient disincentives, the school district has no problem in making decisions that are terrible for the community.

I think this is a bad deal for students as well. As much as the state would like it, administrators must not become the cogs that create test taker factories. The school district's responsibility to taxpayers goes beyond training children to do well on standardized tests. Administrators must continue to focus on the social and emotional development of students, and this can not be done very well in large elementary schools.

Schools have the potential of being gathering points that serve to create a strong community; many have served this role in the past. EPISD's move to permit use of most school recreational facilities during non-school hours was a great step in this direction. I hope the district continues to move in this direction and decides to keep its smaller schools open.