PFLUGERVILLE, Texas (KXAN)– Pflugerville ISD’s school board will be tasked with making a tough decision at its next meeting.
Due to declining enrollment trends and shifting district growth areas, as well as a multimillion dollar budget deficit, the district has looked at a number of ways to fix the issues.
In December, PfISD Superintendent Doug Killian confirmed there were 10 proposals for consideration, with multiple different campus models proposed for closure. Six elementary schools were being considered for possible closure: Parmer Lane, River Oaks, Dessau, Spring Hill, Brook Hollow and Pflugerville.
In February, Killian sent a letter to families letting them know they had narrowed that list down to one school which was Dessau Elementary School.
“It is on that east side of the district where we do have a lot of growth,” said Tamra Spence, PfISD spokesperson. “So, there are a lot of other campuses that are close that are lower enrolled that we can shift some of those students.”
In the same letter letting families know about the possible closure of Dessau, Killian mentioned Dessau Elementary struggled academically for the past few years.
Dessau’s principal responded at the last board meeting.
“I think it is important for the board to know that Dessau Elementary is more than a school that has struggled academically, it is composed of excellent educators and support staff who give more than imaginable,” said Dessau Principal Teyan Allen during a recent board meeting.
If Dessau Elementary does close, that means students would be spread out to school like Weiland Elementary and Delco Elementary. But some students at Delco would also have to move with more students coming in.
“I think school district needs to be very careful and thoughtful about taking a short term savings when they could be creating some longer term harm to students,” said Dave DeMatthews, Associate Professor with the University of Texas Austin school of education. “In the short term it is going to be disruptive, we are going through a pandemic still, kids are still behind and that could cause even greater need for tutors, investments into reading interventionists.”
PfISD provided an updated slideshow to show the impacts from the possible closure.
Will the closure impact teachers at the school?
Spence said at the end of each year there are always openings that need to be filled, but teachers at Dessau will have priority over new hires if the school is closed.
“They can either follow their students because of course we will have to staff those schools if we are putting more students on a campus, we will have to staff those campuses at a higher ratio or they could look at some other schools in the district as well.”
The district provided a slideshow with all available information about the possible closure.
Killian has referred to the decision-making process as a legislative issue, critical of the current school finance system in place. He said the district has struggled with inflation impacts paired with the need to make recapture payments to the state — $12 million in state allotments due.
He encouraged parents to reach out to Texas legislators on state-level school financing systems.
“This is a legislative issue. It’s been a legislative issue for years,” Killian said in December, before adding: “It’s ridiculous because our legislature doesn’t fund public schools right.”
According to the TEA’s 2022 school report card, Dessau received a not rated score.
State accountability ratings are based on student achievement, school progress, and closing the gaps.