HISD board to discuss plans to close 17 campuses

April 14, 2011 5:15:18 AM PDT
Budget cuts in the state's largest school district means some schools may be shutting down. HISD has a big budget shortfall to account for. It's already discussed laying off teachers and today, it will consider a plan to shut down or merge 17 schools.

Initially, HISD said Love, Grimes, McDade, and Rhoads elementaries were at risk of closing down. But now that list has increased to 17 schools across the city. They include both elementary and middle schools. With current budget cuts, the schools may not be able to stay afloat.

Memorial Elementary is one of those schools. A lot of parents don't like the idea, but he superintendent says it has to be considered to meet the budget shortfall.

"I don't believe they should shut down," said concerned grandparent Kathy Howard. "I think there are plenty of children to keep it running. It would just be devastating. These kids have gone here forever."

"If you take two small schools and merge them together, you may end up saving around $600,000 and we need to save $63 million," said HISD Superintendent Dr. Terry Grier.

Just this week, HISD announced their latest numbers for teacher layoffs. Budget cuts mean 567 teacher positions so far have been eliminated. Add to that 163 teachers not renewed because of performance and the number is up to 730 teachers gone starting next year.

Another option for the school district would be raising its tax rate.

If HISD closed every one of those schools, it would save about $10 million, nowhere near what is needed to cover the $63 million budget gap.

HISD's board of trustees can raise property tax up to 7 cents per $100 valuation without voter approval. Each 1-cent raise in tax would equal approximately $9.9 million in revenue. However, the possibility of raising tax is on not any agenda for vote.

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