FBISD considering closing Willowridge HS

Officials with Fort Bend ISD are considering closing schools due to low enrollment, including Willowridge High School

December 8, 2010 3:35:23 PM PST
Leaders with Fort Bend ISD are considering some tough decisions, as they deal with low enrollment in schools. And some of the options on the table involve possibly shutting schools down.

Willowridge High School sits in the easternmost portion of Fort Bend ISD. Its population is among the poorest in the district. Even though test scores there have been improving, there is discussion about closing its doors.

Just a week ago, Fort Bend ISD touted the news that Willowridge High School Principal Dr. Joe Coleman is one of nine finalists for a statewide principal's award. Now we've learned the school he leads could soon be closed.

"I think it's kind of messed up," parent Kevin Jones said.

Fort Bend ISD says currently 1,459 students attend Willowridge. That's only 71.4 percent of capacity and over the next four years demographers say the student population size will plummet to 1,245 students.

Fort Bend ISD is reviewing several options that may better balance student enrollment, though some students say moving them further from home would be detrimental.

"It'll hurt a lot more kids in the long run," student Michael Wert said.

However, a map shows the four other Fort Bend ISD schools which are at more than 110 percent of capacity. Board President Sonal Bhuchar said in a board meeting on November 30 that reductions in state funding could cut up to $26 million from Fort Bend ISD's budget.

"Rezoning is a very, very difficult situation," Bhuchar said. "We are always stuck between a rock and hard place, and this hard place seems to be getting harder each year."

Fort Bend ISD won't say where the children would attend if Willowridge is closed.

"The closest high school is 10, 15 minutes away, so it'd be a transportation problem for other students," former student Elsie Rojas said.

Fort Bend ISD has not decided on any school closures and won't untilJanuary or February.

Willowridge is not the only school which could be shuttered. Colony Bend Elementary and Christa McAuliffe Middle schools also are at risk. But the parent-teacher organization at Colony Bend already has launched an online petition to prevent the school from shutting its doors.


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