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Friday, September 6, 2019 by Claire McInerny
Austin ISD wants to close 12 schools, expand academic programs throughout the district
The Austin Independent School District has released a plan to close 12 schools and move those students to other campuses. The district is also proposing boundary changes and wants to add academic programs at more than 30 schools.
“Change is hard,” Superintendent Paul Cruz said in a letter Thursday to the AISD community, “but it can also make us stronger.”
“We all care about the future of our students, and we’re willing to step up to help reimagine and reinvent our school district,” he wrote. “The changes we make will be worth the effort.”
Cruz told KUT these changes are a long time coming. The school board will vote on this draft in November, and until then, he says, the district welcomes community feedback.
“I want to have these options out for our board to consider, for the community to review, to create a dialogue about how we address inequities from the past, how we deal with it head-on, and actually do something in a better way for all of our students and communities,” Cruz said.
The district announced in February it needed to make these dramatic changes, saying declining enrollment and budget issues left it no other choice. Many of the schools on the list have been under capacity for years. AISD officials have said it is too expensive to keep under-enrolled schools open, and promised if they closed schools they will invest more money in others.
Cruz said he knows the proposed changes will be hard for families, but in the long run, students will benefit from the improvements to academics.
The closings and consolidations will happen over the next four years, with the first consolidation happening at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year.
Here is a breakdown of the proposed changes:
Sims Elementary will close and the building will be repurposed. Children attending Sims, including those from Norman Elementary, will all attend a new Norman-Sims campus once it is renovated.
Pecan Springs Elementary will close and the building will be repurposed. Some students will go to Norman-Sims, while most will attend Winn Elementary. Winn will get renovated. Winn will keep its Montessori program and start a new two-way dual language program, in which classrooms are balanced between students whose native language is English and others whose native language is something else. Classes are taught in both languages.
Maplewood Elementary will close. The students and programs there will be moved to Campbell Elementary, which will absorb Maplewood’s arts program. Students can also choose to go to nearby Blackshear Elementary, which will get renovated and expanded.
Webb Middle School will close. Students here will go to Dobie Middle School. Dobie will get renovated.
Bertha Sadler Means Young Women’s Leadership Academy will close and the campus will be repurposed. Students living in that area who want a single-gender option will be allowed to attend Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders. A coed middle school will be built in the area for neighborhood students.
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Key Players & Topics In This Article
AISD Board of Trustees: This is the governing board of the Austin Independent School District. The board is comprised of two at-large members and seven district representatives.