HISD board approves turning Ryan Middle School in Third Ward into magnet school

April 11, 2013 5:08:31 PM PDT
The Houston ISD school board has approved a controversial plan to relocate students at Ryan Middle School and turn the campus into a magnet school for students interested in the medical field.

During a school board meeting Thursday night, board members approved a plan to create two new magnet schools -- the Energy Institute High School, which will be focus on the energy industry, and the Baylor College of Medicine Academy at Ryan, a district-wide magnet middle school that would allow more students to compete for admission into the highly selective DeBakey High School for the Health Professions.

The Baylor College of Medicine Academy at Ryan will be located at the current Ryan Middle School campus, a historic African-American school building some call the education anchor of the Third Ward. Students currently zoned to there will now be moved nearly four miles away to the Cullen Middle School campus.

The school board's decision did not come uncontested.

Some community members had been battling the proposal, saying they fear HISD's consolidation plan is just one step before closing some of this city's historically black public schools.

Parents say they were told to vote on a bond proposal so HISD could rebuild Ryan. But parents say they were later told Ryan students will be moved to another school and Ryan would become a magnet school.

"If you're a parent you don't want your child especially small children to travel long distances and when they can walk to school and they can't go to a good school because this school is for special people, so they're special too," said Abubakr Kouyate.

HISD says the new Ryan magnet school would be open to all students without admission requirements. However, the level of academic study would be especially high.

The district says it has good reasons to consolidate the schools, but many new voices in the community spoke out against the plan before the vote.

Meanwhile, the district still has not decided on a final location for the Energy Institute High School, although the former Holden Elementary School campus, located at 812 W. 28th Street, is among the options under consideration.
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