Aldine ISD weighs cutting magnet programs

HOUSTON Like all school districts, Aldine ISD is trying to cure its money woes. It has already taken some measures, but now it wants to cut five of the district's 22 beloved magnet programs and parents vow to fight.

Even though they knew the school board wasn't going to take any action on the subject that brought them here, dozens of parents still sat through the hour-long board meeting to get to the public comments section. Parent Maribel Andrade spoke for the group.

"We're taking away the opportunity for them to advance," said Andrade. "We cannot produce the nation's best if we're eliminating programs."

Andrade's daughter is a student at Aldine ISD's Carroll Academy, one of the school's whose magnet program is on the chopping block. Hill Intermediate, Stovall Academy, Harris Academy and Smith Academy are also on the list. Five schools with a total of 647 magnet program students, including Wilford Brown's two daughters.

"If Aldine's a school to have kids achieve more and be more, you can't take something from them that's going to help them be more," said Brown.

Because of decreased revenue and state funding, the district is looking to cut $25 million from its budget. Administrators have already implemented a hiring freeze, slashed departmental budgets and increased class size for next year all in order to cut spending. However, they still need to find more money.

"Unfortunately, we are having to look at programs that we love and have been successful and are well-loved in the community, but we have to run school for 63,000 children," said Dr. Wanda Bamberg, Aldine ISD Superintendent.

Dr. Bamberg has already recommended cutting the magnet programs, but the board still has to vote.

"I'm going to fight for the programs that work, for the programs that make a difference," Andrade said.

Andrade hopes the board will listen. If not, Brown will just move.

"Why keep my kids here to get the bare minimum when I can move to Spring, Conroe ISD or wherever, and pay my tax dollars somewhere else and my kids will get more," said Brown.

The school board is set to vote on the magnet program issue on January 25. If it passes, it's important to note that these schools will not close, students just won't get the extras that come with being enrolled in a magnet program.

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