AUSTIN (KXAN) - The Austin Independent School District revealed new details of what could very well be the next step in making two middle schools single-sex campuses.
The district's plan could include combining the attendance areas of Pearce and Garcia middle schools – campuses that have been stamped with the state's "academically unacceptable" rating for years. This possible move would make one school for girls and one for boys.
"I think he would be OK with that, because he's more into his academics than he is with his social life," said Emily Sanchez, a parent at Pearce. "At this age in their life, they tend to get distracted easily when it's both girls and boys in the school.
Parents would have the option of instead sending their kids to another school – possibly neighboring Dobie, Webb, Lamar or Martin.
"Well, I don't like to see them segregated for any reason," said Kathy Gray, a Pearce grandparent. "I like for them to mix with each other. It's better on them, I think, to be with girls and boys."
Now, the board is delaying a final decision until -- at the earliest – December, and any change would not happen until the 2014-15 school year.
One of the reasons for the delay is to explore other options, because not everyone was happy to hear the single-sex proposal. The first idea is to create just one single-sex campus, separating the boys and girls in the same building. No word on what would happen with the other campus.
The other option is to do what the schools are already doing -- but better. That would include enhancing the college-ready co-ed programs.
Any of the options could ultimately help with Pearce and Garcia's recent academic struggles. In the summer after the 2009-2009 school year, the Texas Education Agency closed Pearce because of poor performance.
It was ultimately allowed to reopen in the fall of 2009. Though scores rose high enough to keep it off the closure list, Pearce was once again rated "unacceptable" by the state in 2011. Garcia was also deemed unacceptable that year.
However, a large majority of nearly 500 students surveyed online from both schools said they disliked the idea of single-sex campuses – 81 percent. Six percent liked the plan, and 13 percent were unsure.
The district estimates the initial school year would cost an additional $860,000 beyond the $11 million already spent on the two schools. That money would go toward supplemental services like college readiness programming.
Annual costs after that would be around $460,000. More information should be available after the board's work session on Monday.
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