Parents, students express concern over school closures proposal

By Keith Garvin - Anchor/Reporter

HOUSTON - Tuesday was a night where parents, students and alumni of Jesse H. Jones High School expressed their concerns, most of the time with passion, and oftentimes with emotion, about the proposal to close the school.

"My best friends, they go here," said Nancy Saldero, a junior at Jones as she fought back tears. "My favorite teachers, they go here. They work here."

More than 100 people turned out for a community meeting sponsored by Houston ISD at the southeast Houston school, one of five schools on the chopping block in closures proposed by the district.

HISD cites low enrollment and changing demographics as some of the reasons for the proposal. But people in the neighborhood say the district financially abandoned the school, encouraging parents to send their kids to charter and magnet schools.

"Put money here," said Larry Winbush, a Jones alumnus who also has a grandson attending the school. "Put resources here. Put programs here for these kids."

The district counters that while it spends about $6,000 on average for its students, it currently is spending more than $12,000 for each student at Jones.

People also turned out for meetings at Dodson Elementary in southeast Houston and at Nathaniel Q. Henderson Elementary in east Houston, where many parents also are strongly opposed to closures.

HISD is also proposing to close Port Houston Elementary and Fleming Middle School. The district will hold community meetings at those schools next week. Officials say they will take all community input into consideration, before voting on the proposal March 13. Their decision will be announced on March 14.

If the closures take place, the district will transition the kids to new schools between March and May.

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