Staff from the Austin Independent School District explained changes to the district's latest school closure plan at a town hall Saturday.
The second draft, released Friday, proposes going ahead with the closure of four elementary schools – Sims, Metz, Pease and Brooke – over the next two school years. The district is giving itself more time, however, to consider whether to close eight other schools that were on its original list.
Gilbert Hicks, associate superintendent of elementary schools, told community members the reason the four remained on the list for potential closure was because the district wanted to implement changes in "year one" that "were not going to cost extra money."
The district has said it wants to consolidate students from closed schools into new, modernized buildings. Many of the modernizations proposed in the first version of the district's school closure plan could happen only if voters approved another bond.
If these four schools are closed, Hicks said, another bond would not be needed. The Norman/Sims and Metz/Sanchez consolidations were funded by the 2017 bond. Govalle, which was modernized through a previous bond, would take in some students from Brooke. Students from Pease, an all-transfer school, would not all go to a single building, so modernization money wouldn't be needed.
On Saturday, the district said it wants to talk more with families and staff about Brooke's proposed closure because students there would be split into different schools, rather than all going to the same new school together. It's possible the school could be taken off the list, staff said.
AISD staff also said they are open to talking with Pease parents about finding one school that could absorb all the students so the community could stay together.
The district will be holding public meetings leading up to the school board's potential vote on the plan Nov. 18.
Click on the thread below to see live tweets of parent concerns and the district’s response during the meeting:
.@AustinISD staff are talking this afternoon at the Building Bridges Town Hall about version 2 of School Changes.
You can read about the update that was announced last night here: https://t.co/JokiL7Sc7z
— Claire McInerny (@ClaireMcInerny) November 2, 2019