Audit findings advise HISD to close 55 magnet programs

January 7, 2011 4:39:01 PM PST
HISD is taking a serious look at its magnet school program and major changes could be in the works. A recent study of the program suggested that nearly half of the magnet programs in place around the district should be removed. The announcement comes on the very same day of the deadline for parents to enroll students in magnet programs for next year. Parents could very likely be enrolling for programs that won't exist next year.


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
    Bell Elementary
    Burbank Elementary
    Carrillo Elementary
    DeZavala Elementary
    Elrod Elementary
    Felix Cook Elementary
    Herod Elementary
    Herrera Elementary
    Law Elementary
    MacGregor Elementary
    Oak Forest Elementary
    Pleasantville Elementary
    River Oaks Elementary
    Roberts Elementary
    Roosevelt Elementary
    Scroggins Elementary
    T. H. Rogers Elementary
    Travis Elementary
    Twain Elementary
    Valley West Elementary
    Wainwright Elementary
    West University Elementary
    Windsor Elementary
    Attucks Middle
    Burbank Middle
    Contemporary Learning Center Middle
    Dowling Middle
    Hamilton Middle
    Holland Middle
    Jackson Middle
    Key Middle
    Lanier Middle
    Patrick Middle
    Ryan 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