HISD discusses 'rightsizing' schools

December 16, 2010 3:33:22 PM PST
The Houston Independent School District says it will start taking a closer look at dozens of schools it says have either too many or too few students. It's all part of the district's efforts to deal with an anticipated budget shortfall. Robert E. Lee High School is one of the schools at which the district will be looking. Right now, the school has the room to hold more than 1,200 additional students. It's a problem for the district and the students who go there because they're the ones losing out on money and resources.

There are nearly 1,700 students enrolled at Lee High, but the school is zoned to hold almost 3,000 students. The district is now keeping a close eye on Lee and 65 other HISD schools. They want to implement something called "rightsizing."

In this process they're going to look at why some of the schools' enrollment numbers are so low. For instance, if a school is zoned for about 900 students and enrollment is only at 450, it's considered a problem.

"Rightsizing is determining that right size for that particular school," said HISD School Board President Greg Myers.

Myers says schools facing severe under-enrollment, and those with massive overcrowding, aren't the best learning environments for children. So the district is launching this study to determine how to fix those problems. Long term, it could mean changes to where your kids go to school.

"It's way early in the process to even begin being concerned about any possible consolidations or closures," said Myers.

But it may happen. For example, at Bellaire High School where they're over capacity, some students may eventually have to go elsewhere. It's an idea that didn't sit well with all parents.

"I just think the school district needs to accommodate to the growth of the school," said parent Antoinette McClain.

Bellaire has already made adjustments; teachers hold classes in the library and some students even have the option of taking online courses.

"There are too many people in the school, like some classes are like 30, 24 people. Too big. One teacher can't handle all that sometimes," said student Yousif Mohmmad.

"What you have to do is look at the school that's not attracting them, try and figure out what you have to do to make it a more attractive choice," said Gayle Fallon of the Houston Federation of Teachers.

The district says this is a long process that could take several months or even a year.

"As we start breaking it down, we're going to be very transparent, ensuring that the community, that our public, knows exactly where we're headed on this topic," Myers said.

HISD is expecting a report on its magnet schools in January. That will be telling because that will determine how those magnets are affecting enrollment numbers throughout the district.

Here is a look at the HISD schools on the list:

Elementary schools below enrollment of 500 students

McDade
Paige
Atherton
Henderson, NQ
Port Houston
Houston Gardens
Burrus
Fondren
Kashmere Gardens
Love
Blackshear
Frost
Ross
Isaacs
Looscan
Briscoe
Durham
Elrod
Rhoads
Memorial
Gordon
Pleasantville
Stevenson
Grimes
Crockett
Hartsfield
Young
Shadowbriar
Oates
Osborne
Wesley
Field
Whidby
MacGregor
Alcott

Middle schools below 750

Ryan
Williams
Key
Attucks
Thomas
Sharpstown
McReynolds
Hogg
Sugar Grove
Grady
Black
Fleming
Cullen
Fondren
Long

High schools below 1250

Kashmere
Scarborough
Washington
Wheatley
Yates
Jones
Furr
Worthing
Sterling

PK-8 schools below 750

Wharton
Rusk
Gregory-Lincoln
Smith, EO
Woodson
Wilson
Briarmeadow

Elementary schools over capacity:

Roberts
Emerson
Daily
Condit
Law
Briargrove
Cornelius
Herrera
West University
Wainwright
MacGregor
Ketelson
Coop
Moreno
Travis

Middle schools over capacity:

Hamilton
West Briar
Pershing
Stevenson

High schools over capacity:

Lamar
Chavez
Westside
Bellaire


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