With five schools facing closure, the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees heard plenty last night from the parents of students attending those schools — but there aren’t a lot of options, district officials reiterated.
Four of the schools — Carr Elementary, Titche Elementary, Ray Learning Center and Edison Middle — have been on the state’s Improvement Required list for four years or more. If they remain so this year, the Texas Education Agency will be required to close the schools or take over the district.
The district has made strides in reducing the number of its IR schools — 13 are currently on the IR list, down from 43 schools just four years ago. That equates to roughly 14,000 fewer students attending an IR school now. Houston ISD — the state’s other large urban district — added more than 2,000 students in the same time frame.
More than 40 people spoke about the closures during the time allotted for public comment, but in the end, the board voted to move Edison seventh and eighth graders to Pinkston High and to combine Ray and Kennedy elementaries with Chavez Elementary. Students who would’ve been future Edison sixth graders will remain at elementary schools for an additional year (most elementary schools are pre-kindergarten through fifth grade).
Pinkston has space to accommodate the middle schoolers since it is under capacity.
Ignite Middle School, a personalized learning choice school, will open at the Ray campus next school year.
Carr and Titche elementary schools may be closed as well, depending on whether they meet state standards.
And while the board was happy with a revamped plan for Edison students — the original plan involved sending them to Quintanilla Middle school — the plan to close Ray and JFK was not without dissension. The vote was 7-2, with the trustees Joyce Foreman and Bernadette Nutall against.
District officials said it made sense to consolidate schools because of low enrollment. Board president Dan Micciche said that the three schools had lost more than 700 students combined in the last four years.
Foreman took issue with that, pointing to other schools like CityLab with lower enrollment figures.
“We are creating an atmosphere of choice schools and away from neighborhood schools,” she insisted.
“You have to look at the projections for all four years,” Micciche responded. “You have to make it apples to apples.”
He added that schools like CityLab are new, and have not been fully built out.
“The optics of that just don’t look good to me,” Nutall said, adding that the schools are predominately African-American.
“It have no issue with leaving Titche open if it gets off the IR list,” said Foreman. “What I do have an issue with is the difference between on what’s going on with Titche and what will happen with J.W. Ray.”
District officials, however, say that Dallas ISD is actually unique in the way it is handling the potential TEA mandate for its long-term IR schools.
“We’re the only district that I know of right now that is providing any options in one motion,” Stephanie Elizalde, Dallas ISD Chief of School Leadership,said. “It does prolong the decision making.”
“We are working to provide as many options as we could that made sense,” Elizalde said.