AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Independent School District leaders spent the last month hearing directly from parents about the district’s proposal to close a dozen schools.
At the beginning of September, AISD released 39 preliminary scenarios. The options range from closing and consolidating schools to expanding some schools to accommodate grades 6th through 12th. They’re also adding new programs like e-sports and social justice and legal studies.
Throughout September, AISD held community feedback meetings at schools slated to close under the current proposal. Those campuses are:
- Pease Elementary School
- Metz Elementary School
- Sims Elementary School
- Webb Middle School
- Brooke Elementary School
- Maplewood Elementary School
- Ridgetop Elementary School
- Joslin Elementary School
- Dawson Elementary School
- Sadler Means Young Women’s Leadership Academy
- Pecan Springs Elementary School
- Palm Elementary School
AISD leaders said: “Each scenario is a starting point for conversations. The proposed changes are not final.”
South First and Manchaca area changes
Wednesday night, the district met with parents of Dawson, Galindo, Joslin and St. Elmo elementary schools.
Many Dawson parents echoed the sentiment: “Don’t close our school.”
“I don’t want to start my kid in a school when I know that in 2024, according to this plan, they’re saying it could close in 2024. That puts him in 3rd grade. I don’t want to take him away from his friends that he had just made, the community feel that he made,” said Lori Medeiros.
The current plan calls for closing Dawson and Joslin elementary schools and sending those kids to St. Elmo or Galindo.
Medeiros said she was born and raised in the 78704 ZIP code. She wants her children to be able to go to their neighborhood school.
“To uproot them and put them in a big school, psychologically, it’s not good for them,” she said.
Medeiros said she knows first hand how hard it is to change schools abruptly.
“During the late 80s, early 90s, they switched up our schools. They wanted to integrate,” she explained. “I know that sixth grade was a really challenging year for me. It makes me emotional because I don’t want that for my children.”
When the proposals were drafted, Reyne Telles, AISD’s Executive Director of Communication and Engagement, said: “[We looked at] what programs do we want to apply and be able to fund, as well as where we want to place those programs.”
He added, “It is about access and opportunity, and for us, it’s also about modernizing spaces.”
The district emphasizes, however, this is just a draft.
“To automatically assume that we’re going to see disruption within any one community would be premature at this time,” Telles said.
The series of community feedback meetings wraps up Thursday with a session focused on Langford, Palm and Perez elementary schools and Covington Middle School.
Telles said they will review all the feedback they’ve received.
“We’re going to be taking a good hard look at that feedback from the community and incorporate into our scenarios that we’re going to propose for the Board of Trustees later in the fall,” Telles said. “There is a chance that some schools may come off the list, as well as there’s an equal chance that we may be looking at new or different types of programming that we find out that the community may be interested in.”