HISD leaders consider school closures

By Courtney Gilmore - Anchor/Reporter

HOUSTON - Houston ISD's superintendent held a workshop with the district's school board to discuss the planned closures of five schools.

Administrators, parents, and community leaders were in attendance at Thursday's workshop.

Dr. Terry Grier expressed his gratitude for the conversation and dialogue about the district's proposal.

"Most of the situations surrounding school closures have to do with a shift in demographics," said Dr. Grier. "We've spent over $3 million on magnet funds for Jones High School. We replaced the teachers, we replaced the principals, we've seen improvements in the school dramatically but the enrollment is still down."

The superintendent says low enrollment is costly,

In Wednesday's State of the Schools address, Grier said HISD is striving to provide a quality education to all 211,000 students in a safe environment, but that goal still has not been reached.

Over 80 percent of the district's students come from disadvantaged homes, and Grier said reading skills are still a major concern for the district going forward.

There's also the controversy over Grier's plan to close five campuses where enrollment has dropped.

The proposal to close Dodson, Nathaniel Henderson, and Port Houston elementary schools, along with Fleming Middle School and Jones High School has sparked outrage and allegations of racism.

Grier said the proposal is about economics.

"One of the issues here is that Houston is a district of choice, and when you have 2,200 students in a zone, and only 450 of those kids chose to go to that school, and when that enrollment goes down, you spend three times for the children in that school as you are for others across the district," Grier said.

"We can't help that our community is small," said Martha Garcia whose child attends Port Houston Elementary. "I went there, my family and friends went there, and now my children go there. We love the school. It's been here for 100 years. If it closes what about transportation, what about safety."

Garcia, along with 14 other parents attended the workshop at the HISD administration building.

The board discussed several options and plans to vote on the proposal in March.

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