AUSTIN (KXAN) — Nearly two months after Austin ISD staff publicly proposed closing 12 schools, the district has announced an updated plan of schools slated for closure.
Schools slated for closure in the 2020-21 school year are Sims Elementary School, Metz Elementary School and Pease Elementary School. Pease will be closed, but will be re-purposed to a media/archives for the district.
Brooke Elementary School is still under consideration for closure.
Below are excerpts from AISD’s 61 page document outlining version 2 of the School Changes plan release Friday night. These sections are specific to the schools that will be closed or repurposed and the district’s reasoning.
The Sims facility will close, and resources will be combined and invested to enhance academic programming in welcoming and inspiring learning spaces. The campus communities will have the opportunity to provide input on the programming offered at the modernized Norman-Sims school. Demographic and facility data within this region, including at Pecan Springs Elementary School, will continue to be evaluated to determine if there are additional opportunities to combine and reinvest resources at the Norman-Sims campus.
Our Why: Bringing the Norman and Sims elementary communities together will build on the unity, strength and momentum of the currently co-located students. This consolidation will help support our district’s underserved Black and Hispanic elementary school students, who will benefit from the access and opportunities created by combining teaching staff, academic resources and programs. The district will dedicate resources toward directly affecting racial and socio-economic disparities in literacy, suspensions, gifted and talented placement, graduation rates and more. This consolidation addresses the challenges of declining enrollment at each school while offering a thriving learning community better equipped to attract area students not currently enrolled in Austin ISD.
The modernized Sanchez is a $25 million investment from the 2017 Bond program. Metz will close and resources will be combined and invested to enhance academic programming at Sanchez. The campus communities will provide input on the programming offered at the modernized Sanchez school.
Our Why: Bringing the Metz and Sanchez communities together will allow for a concentration of resources in a modernized learning environment that better serves our district’s’ underserved Black and Hispanic students. Students will benefit from the access and opportunities created through combining teaching staff, academic resources, and programs. This consolidation addresses the challenges of declining enrollment at each school while fostering a welcoming learning community to support greater academic achievement and attracting new students to the district.
The Pease Elementary School site will be repurposed to support AISD media and archives, as well as a social justice center. The district will continue to work with the Pease community to determine how and where they might be able to relocate together. Pease does not have an attendance area, therefore, students would have the option to return to their assigned school or transfer to another site.
Our Why: Austin ISD cannot support a fully modernized campus at the small-school capacity of 522 at the Pease location because of the limited size of the site. The funds that would have been used to address longstanding facility issues at Pease will be reinvested districtwide. Pease Elementary School will be repurposed to support the districtwide Social Justice Center and the AISD archives. This would preserve the history of AISD and all our school communities within a historically significant building. This solution best preserves the Pease site, with limited need for demolition or new construction.
BROOKE ELEMENTARY (STILL UNDER CONSIDERATION FOR 2020-2021)
Students living north of Lady Bird Lake will attend the new Govalle Elementary School. Students living south of Lady Bird Lake will attend Linder, which is planned to be fully modernized in the next bond program. Brooke families assigned to Linder may also transfer students to Govalle, Zavala or Sanchez (if capacity is available). The Brooke facility will be repurposed, and resources will be combined and reinvested to enhance academic programming at Govalle and Linder. Most students will attend schools closer to their homes, decreasing travel time and increasing opportunities to walk or bike to school. The Brooke campus community will have the opportunity to co-create with Govalle and Linder about programming and about how the Brooke culture and its Green ESTEAM program can be incorporated. Brooke students assigned to Linder could attend Govalle, Zavala or Sanchez, with transportation provided by the district until the Linder campus is modernized.
Our Why: Consolidating the Govalle and Brooke elementary school communities will allow for a concentration of resources in a modernized facility and dynamic learning environment. This will help support the district’s underserved Black and Hispanic students. Students will benefit from the access and opportunities created by combining teaching staff, academic resources and programs. This includes intentionally dedicating resources toward directly affecting racial and socio-economic disparities in literacy, suspensions, gifted and talented placement, graduation rates and more. This consolidation also addresses the challenges of declining enrollment at each school while offering a thriving learning community better equipped to attract students not currently enrolled in Austin ISD.
Two weeks from now, the board will have its first opportunity to vote on the closures during its regular board meeting on November 18.
The new version of the school changes proposal will also address districtwide systemic changes, boundary changes and programmatic additions or expansions.
The creation of the final list comes after the district hosted more than 20 campus meetings since September 23 to solicit feedback.
During most of the meetings, district staff members heard intense criticism and opposition to their proposal, particularly from the East Austin community, where half of the 12 schools originally recommended for closure are located.
- The district’s original list proposed closing 10 elementary schools:
- Pecan Springs
It also recommended closing two middle schools:
- Webb Middle School
- Sadler Means Young Women’s Leadership Academy
In a letter to staff, Superintendent Paul Cruz said that staff of schools in good standing are guaranteed jobs.