HISD cuts student funding, may close 4 schools

March 10, 2011 8:29:42 PM PST
"Sad times for every member of HISD" -- those are the words of Houston ISD Superintendent Terry Grier.

He spoke just minutes after the school board voted to reduce per-student spending by $275. It was just one of the many budget decisions trustees made.

The bottom line is less money per student. The board also voted on Thursday night to consider closing four schools despite pleas from a lot of passionate parents.

Love Elementary isn't feeling the love.

"It makes us a little uneasy that we've been kept out of the loop," the school's PTO president, Bronwyn Lauder said.

Love is one of four schools the board will consider closing. Grimes, McDade and Rhodes are the others.

"All my children, all my grandchildren attended Rhodes," said Doretha Harris, PTO president of the school.

The district says with less money per student, these schools won't be able to function.

"They're among the smallest schools in HISD. They all receive an extra financial subsidy that most schools don't receive," HISD Spokesman Jason Spencer said.

Less than one week ago, parents and teachers at Love learned their campus of 425 students is in jeopardy of closing at the end of this school year. In days, they made T-shirts, held rallies and started petitioning to save their Heights-area school, which in recent years has gone from unacceptable to exemplary.

"I know that schools need to be closed; I just don't think with the growth trends in the Heights that this is the right choice," Lauder said.

Thursday night's decision means HISD will look at each school's enrollment trends and future around them as a jumping board.

It's complicated to digest for children who may be transferred to a new school next year.

"Just wondering why they would choose our school when it's really good," fifth grader Victoria Ortega said.

It's also complicated for parents like Louann Guillen who may have to start driving their children to different neighborhoods, instead of walking them a couple blocks away.

"How far are you gonna walk children -- 5 years old, 7 years old -- to school?" she said.

No specific timeline has been set for when decision could come to close the schools. Teachers who will lose their jobs should be notified by April 18, so not a lot of time.

A lot of parents we spoke with say they're nervous about that the decision could come around TAKS testing time. They're saying they don't want that to distract their children.