City leader backing fight to save elementary school from closing in Fifth Ward

Community members feel the data used to justify closing Henderson Elementary is flawed
February 14, 2014 4:55:30 PM PST
Five HISD schools may soon be on the chopping block. The Fifth Ward community is fighting to save one of them, and they have the support of a Houston city council member

The vice mayor pro tem says he believes data HISD is using to look at the community surrounding Henderson Elementary may be flawed and he's among many who want to see this school remain open.

As families near Nathaniel Q Henderson Elementary School deal with HISD's controversial proposal to possibly close this campus, some neighbors, like grandparent Sherri Dwellingham, say there are mixed emotions.

"It's just bad timing, that's what I feel," she said. "It's just actually bad timing."

Dwellingham isn't the only one who feels the possibility of losing this Fifth Ward elementary school comes at a bad time.

Houston Vice-Mayor Pro Tem Jerry Davis said, "This area is going to boom."

Davis told me there's millions of dollars' worth of development and money being put into this economically challenged neighborhood right now.

"I'm going to say it's at least $8 to 9 million that we're pushing and I'm not even including the infrastructure," Davis explained.

Davis says projects aimed to boost the area include upgrades to Finigan Park, the neighborhood YMCA and major improvements at a nearby apartment complex where many of Henderson's students live. Davis says that's in addition to new businesses, and plans for more than 100 new rental, low-income, and mid to market level homes.

"As you know, as you sell homes, you sell homes based upon the surrounding fixtures and the infrastructure, and we're creating that here," Davis said. "We're asking them to partner with us and let's continue to work with this school and Fleming as well."

If Henderson were to close, HISD is proposing the students consolidate into Bruce or Pugh elementary campuses. Dwellingham says that idea has some serious transportation and safety concerns.

She said, "Anytime you cross the track on Market by Mac Reynolds, it's always going to be trouble, so you have to look forward to that also."

Davis tells me city leaders are expected to meet with HISD administrators next week to discuss the closing and consolidation proposals.

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