In Austin Public Schools, Lockers Are Becoming a Thing of the Past

Mar 25, 2016

It was probably a staple of your high school experience.

That little oasis where you could go in between classes to collect your books, to freshen up your make up or, maybe, to check to see if your baby mustache is still growing in properly. 

But, it’s an experience that most kids now don’t get the chance to have.  We're talking, of course, about the school locker. 

    

At Akins High School in South Austin, students walk by rows of lockers on either side of the hall. But most high school students in Austin public schools don’t get lockers anymore unless a student requests one.

Out of the more than 2,700 students at Akins, only two have requested one this year, both for medical reasons. The rest are wired shut.

“It’s just one of those antiques of education, the locker," says Brandi Hosack, the principal at Akins. Across the country, schools have been phasing out lockers for years. Students no longer use textbooks, and don’t need a place to store heavy books.

“At one time there was a use," says Craig Shapiro, former Crockett High School Principal and interim Associate Superintendent of High Schools. "But, now, I think that use is not needed and kids like to be mobile, and that’s the world we live in. So, they’re way more flexible.”

Paige Derickson is a senior at Akins. She hasn’t had a locker since middle school and she's fine with that.

“Mostly we do everything with computers and online," says Derickson. "Like, we turn in papers digitally for one of my classes. There’s no notebooks in that class. It’s really kind of pointless for some of the classes.”

There are some reasons why schools don’t assign lockers: It means students don’t have a place to hide drugs or weapons. Though, principals Hosack and Shapiro say that’s less of a concern for them.  

Even though they’re not being used, Austin ISD still installs lockers in newly constructed schools, but it’s unclear why. Austin ISD could not provide an official for comment before deadline.

But, a newly developed school district committee asked to evaluate the district’s buildings and facilities could decide if it’s even necessary to include lockers in future schools.

*A previous version of this story misidentified Brandi Hosack as Brady. KUT regrets the error.