Budget cuts and underperforming schools could mean closures of some campuses in Texas’ largest school district

AP Photo/Elise Amendola

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Houston Independent School District (HISD) officials said they must come up with a plan to recover from a $200 million deficit, facing a potential closure of more than a dozen schools for underperformance.

Many schools are reportedly still recovering from Hurricane Harvey, both in terms of damage to their facilities and loss of property tax revenue due to damaged or abandoned homes, according to district reports.

As part of a press release on the ongoing problem, HISD Superintendent Richard Carranza explained the district is set to undergo “extensive and drastic” budget cuts to remedy the deficit:

“Cuts are cuts. Our goal is to keep that as far away from the classroom and teachers and teaching positions and the instruction that happens in schools as possible, but next year will look significantly different than it looks this year, because, when you cut $200 million plus, it’s going to effect everything you do.”

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At the same time, HISD is also reportedly facing the possibility of losing as many as 15 schools to either a shutdown or a state takeover due to underperformance.

According to reports, these schools include:

  • Blackshear, Dogan, Highland Heights, Hilliard, Mading and Wesley elementary schools
  • Cullen, Henry, Woodson and Lawson middle schools
  • Kashmere, Madison, North Forest, Wheatley and Worthing high schools

During a meeting earlier this month, district officials said they discussed one of two options to save the troubled schools, the first of which involves partnerships with nonprofit groups who would manage the schools:

“We’re going to start having a conversation with this community about a potential partnership that will provide many opportunities for our students next year,” Carranza explained further.

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They said the other option would be to close the schools and reopen them with new staff members and faculty prior to the start of the 2018-19 academic year:

“It’s not an option that I would ever vote for,” HISD Board President Rhonda Skillern-Jones said in an interview. “I will never vote to close down the school. This community doesn’t deserve that and most of all our children don’t deserve that.”

Stay tuned, Hoouston.

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