San Antonio ISD proposes 19 campus closures over next two school years

SAISD Superintendent Jaime Aquino told parents and students that the so-called "rightsizing" plan will create a more equitable district.

click to enlarge Second-year SAISD Superintendent Jaime Aquino speaks bout proposed school closures during Monday's board meeting. - Michael Karlis
Michael Karlis
Second-year SAISD Superintendent Jaime Aquino speaks bout proposed school closures during Monday's board meeting.
The San Antonio Independent School District unveiled plans to close 19 schools between now and 2025 during a lengthy and sometimes tense meeting on Monday evening.

Parents and community activists raised concerns during the meeting that the campus closures will harm both parents and children, especially those in economically disadvantaged and marginalized groups.

However, second-year SAISD Superintendent Jaime Aquino tried to assure parents the district's so-called "rightsizing" plan will create a more equitable district.

"I've heard from the [San Antonio Teachers Alliance] that they want a better salary, they want more manageable class sizes, they want a librarian in every single building," Aquino said. "They're getting less resources [right now] even though we have big funding."

The following schools are on SAISD's proposed closure list:
  • Baskin Elementary School
  • Carroll Early Childhood Campus
  • Collins Garden Elementary School
  • Douglass Elementary School
  • Forbes Elementary School
  • Foster Elementary School
  • Gates Elementary School
  • Highland Park Elementary School
  • Huppertz Elementary School
  • Knox Early Childhood Campus
  • Lamar Elementary School
  • Lowell Middle School
  • Miller Elementary School
  • Nelson Early Childhood Center
  • Ogden Elementary School
  • Pershing Elementary School
  • Riverside Park Elementary School
  • Storm Elementary School
  • Tynan Early Childhood Center
According to SAISD's proposal, Caroll, Knox, Nelson and Tynan early childhood care centers would close next year. Twelve elementary schools — including Baskin, Collins Garden, Douglass, Forbes, Gates, Huppertz, Lamar, Ogden, Pershing, Riverside Park, and Storm — also would close in that same time frame.

Lowell Middle School will close and merge with Kelly Elementary School, and Washington Elementary School will top off at 5th grade instead of 6th. Meanwhile, Foster and Highland Park would close for the 2024-2025 school year.

The elementary schools slated for closure had enrollment numbers under 350, according to Aquino. Even so, they received the same funding as campuses with double the student population, creating an inequitable distribution of district funds, he explained.

SAISD's enrollment dropped from some 61,000 students in 1998 to around 45,000 this year. District officials blame the declining enrollment on lower birth rates and a lack of affordable housing, the latter of which forced many living in the center city to head to less-pricy suburbs.

SAISD board members have publicly denied that charter schools or lackluster academic achievement have taken a toll on enrollment.

"[Parents] say they want improved academic performance at the schools, you want facilities, you want the latest and greatest. How is that going to be funded?," Mark Twain Dual Language Academy principal David Garcia asked the crowd. "The reality is righsizing is making better use of our resources."

Garcia said he understands parents' concerns but added "this type of growth and shrinking" of districts happens all the time.

Still, several speakers, including San Antonio Teachers Alliance President Alejandra Lopez, said the board displayed a lack of transparency while selecting which campuses to close.

"Our public schools belong to the people, and therefore our school communities must have the ability to exercise self-determination," Lopez said. "I would expect an education institution to be on the side of democracy, not less."

Aquino and others on the board reiterated that Monday's presentation was simply a proposal and that SAISD will host community input meetings before the board's scheduled Nov. 13 vote on which schools to shutter.

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Michael Karlis

Michael Karlis is a Staff Writer at the San Antonio Current. He is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., whose work has been featured in Salon, Alternet, Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, Orlando Weekly, NewsBreak, 420 Magazine and Mexico Travel Today. He reports primarily on breaking news, politics...

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