The thought of losing the magnet designation at Bellaire High School is devastating to parents, teachers and students. Even though the superintendent made it very clear that these are only recommendations, his words were met with skepticism.
Parent Estella Bailey said, "I'm very taken aback about it. I'm just shocked."
The announcement stunned Bailey, whose daughter is not zoned to Bellaire High School but was able to attend by enrolling in Bellaire's world language magnet program. It's a program that is now on the chopping block. Bellaire is among other schools at risk of losing their magnet designation.
HISD Superintendent Dr. Terry Grier explained, "It doesn't mean that the school can't continue to provide the course and the program. They'll continue to get funding through our vocational funds to support the program and students who want to attend or come from another school, as long as there is space."
The results of the comprehensive magnet review program means drastic changes for HISD's magnet programs. Magnet schools are theme-based and have been at HISD for almost 40 years, without any uniform standards for admissions or accountability.
The recommendations include cutting 55 out of 113 existing magnet schools in HISD. The magnet recommendations also include for the next school year: schools who lose their magnet designation would receive only 40 percent of the current magnet school subsidy. No extra magnet money would be received after that. And magnets would adopt officials magnet school standards.
In Bellaire's case, the study found not enough students from outside Bellaire's zoning are enrolled in Bellaire's magnet program.
"My mindset is we don't want to change," said Bellaire High School Principal Tim Salem. "We will certainly hope that all of this is discussed and the merits of what we have will be emphasized."
Principal Salem remains optimistic, believing that their upcoming campus expansion may provide some of those recommendations and relieve some of the restrictions that were in the report.
About 42,000 students are enrolled in magnet programs. If those programs are cut, there is a chance schools could continue the classes, but without the magnet designation.
The recommendations still have to be approved by the school board, but before that happens a series of town hall meetings will be held.
Here's the list of schools with magnet programs recommended to be removed:
- Askew Elementary
Felix Cook Elementary
Oak Forest Elementary
River Oaks Elementary
T. H. Rogers Elementary
Valley West Elementary
West University Elementary
Contemporary Learning Center Middle
T. H. Rogers Middle
Austin High School
Bellaire High School
Carnegie Vanguard High School
Chavez High School
Contemporary Learning Center High School
Davis High School
Furr High School
Kashmere High School
Lamar High School
Lee High School
Madison High School
Milby High School
Reagan High School
Scarborough High School
Sharpstown High School
Sterling High School
Westbury High School
Westside High School
Wheatley High School