Cover Story: Saving Graces

Last summer the doors to North Forest Independent School District closed for the last time.

When they reopened again, the campuses and students once a part of the realm of the small, impoverished, minority-dominated school district in northeast Houston were under the control of Houston Independent School District, with Superintendent Terry Grier at the helm.

Grier and other HISD officials insisted they were simply following Texas Education Agency orders by taking in the school, but there were considerable benefits for HISD in the merger.

North Forest was a failing school district with low graduation rates, dismal test scores and decreasing enrollment, but there are those in the community like former Silvia Brooks Williams, a former North Forest school board member, who felt the district had problems similar to those in HISD, but North Forest was small enough all of the flaws in their system were harder to mask. Critics say that North Forest could have righted itself if the state had given the district the financial support being supplied to HISD to turn the district around.

"I'm not saying money is everything, but it's a whole lot. If North Forest had had that money, I believe they would have been able to do a lot of thing with it. I think they would have been able to pull through," State Rep. Senfronia Thompson said.

After years of struggling, North Forest sank into the massive HISD system, one of the largest school districts in the country. Read about it in this week's cover story, "Saving Graces."

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