HISD School Closings: Would You Feel Better If They Called Them Repurposings?

Categories: Education

A superintendent who knows his message isn't a happy one
Today's 9th, 10th and 11th grade students at Jones High School could be allowed to finish out their high school careers at the school targeted for closure, if trustees adopt one of several options tossed around in a lengthy Houston ISD board workshop Thursday.

Houston ISD Superintendent Terry Grier proposed the idea in passing about halfway through the meeting and then with more detail at the end of the long meeting in which trustees and audience members were presented with 39 pages of PowerPoint and accompanying staff and superintendent explanation -- while trustees asked a lot of questions.

Yes, Grier still wants to close Jones (supporters of this shutdown in the administration, and on the board say they've thrown millions of dollars at the school, replaced all of the staff, put in new programs and still the desired academic progress isn't there and most kids don't want to go there), but said there might be an avenue for the present 9th, 10th and 11th graders to stay.

No one new could transfer in and there wouldn't be a 9th grade class next year. There also wouldn't be any extracurriculars. But that way those few remaining students could graduate from the school they want to go to. The school would be converted to a swing facility at some point, housing students from other campuses while their schools were being renovated. Jones would still close, but not for a while.

Thursday's meeting was supposed to start at 7:30 a.m. but most board members didn't make it there on time. Board President Juliet Stipeche called things to order just before 8 a.m. but a quorum wasn't achieved until a while later.

Chief critic/questioner was new trustee Wanda Adams who appeared to think the district hadn't done a good job of letting people know Jones was potentially on the chopping block. That inspired a polite uumph from trustee Anna Eastman (last year's board president) who pointed out that Jones was up for closure last year and was granted another year and so yes, Jones folks did know about it.

Communications Director Tiffany Davila-Dunne said that when they held a recent community meeting at Jones to discuss the proposed closings, a common refrain from the audience was: "You come back to us every year with this issue."

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