Sep 19, 2023 - News

San Antonio ISD looks to close 20% of its schools

Illustration of a chalkboard with "Sorry We're Closed" written in chalk.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

San Antonio ISD released a proposal this week to close 19 schools — more than 20% of its campuses — over two years as the district faces declining enrollment.

Why it matters: The closures affect primarily Hispanic families on the near East, West, and South sides of the city, with the potential to upend routines and relationships.

Of note: The recommendations can still change in the coming months as the district continues to seek feedback.

What they're saying: "Matching the number of buildings and their capacity to proper student enrollment allows for more equitable and robust allocation of our limited resources to our schools, our families, and most of all, our students," superintendent Jaime Aquino said.

  • Aquino previously told Axios there would be minimal impact on staff, although he could not guarantee everyone would keep their jobs.

The other side: The San Antonio Alliance, the union representing teachers and support staff in SAISD, called for fewer school closures, saying the scale will shock communities and negatively impact students.

By the numbers: In addition to the closures, the proposal includes three school mergers, two grade re-configurations, one relocation, and one co-location.

  • In all, 23 campuses would take in more students and teachers.

Details: The proposed closures include one middle school and four early childhood education centers. The rest are elementary schools.

  • Seventeen schools are slated to close in the 2024-25 school year, with two the following year. The delay allows the district to finish bond-funded renovations for schools that will receive more students.

The schools proposed for closure are:

  • Lamar Elementary School
  • Pershing Elementary School
  • Carroll Early Childhood Education Center
  • Douglass Elementary School
  • Gates Elementary School
  • Miller Elementary School
  • Tynan Early Childhood Education Center
  • Forbes Elementary School
  • Foster Elementary School
  • Highland Park Elementary School
  • Collins Garden Elementary School
  • Knox Early Childhood Education Center
  • Lowell Middle School
  • Riverside Park Elementary School
  • Ogden Elementary School
  • Storm Elementary School
  • Baskin Elementary School
  • Huppertz Elementary School
  • Nelson Early Childhood Education Center

Between the lines: The student body at San Antonio ISD is about 90% Hispanic, per U.S. News & World Report.

State of play: Much of the decline in enrollment is due to fewer children living in the district. Births have declined 36% since 2007 in ZIP codes within SAISD, per Brian Eschbacher, a demographic researcher who reported to the board.

  • However, a lack of affordable housing also contributes to declining enrollment.
  • SAISD's enrollment in 2003-2004 was 56,812.
  • During the 2021-2022 school year, enrollment fell to 44,568. Enrollment for the 2022-2023 school year rebounded slightly to 45,285 students.

Zoom out: SAISD is not alone in closing schools due to declining enrollment.

Zoom in: SAISD officials say they will work with the community to find a use for closed school buildings.

  • They've heard suggestions to repurpose schools as affordable housing for staff, senior centers, green spaces, and community centers, among others.

What's next: The board will take a final vote on Nov. 13.

  • Before then, the district will seek more input and host meetings to share how officials chose schools to recommend for closure.
  • Neighborhood meetings are scheduled Saturday through Monday with more to come.

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