HISD Eyes More School Closures, a Hike in Lunch Prices, UPDATED

Update:HISD spokesman Jason Spencer sent us a note that these schools are now up for closure and/or consolidation: Elementary schools: Memorial, Paige, N.Q. Henderson, Port Houston, Gordon, Pleasantville, Stevenson, Houston Gardens, Burrus, Rhoads, Grimes, McDade, and Love. Middle schools: Ryan, M.C. Williams, Key, Black.

Also, preliminery numbers show that there have been a total of 730 HISD teachers who have been given notice that their contract will not be renewed for the 2011-2012 school year. Of these, 567 teachers' positions are being eliminated due to budget constraints, and 163 teachers' contracts will not be renewed due to performance issues. Spencer noted again that this number can change daily.

Four elementaries got at least a brief reprieve Monday when, at the recommendation of Superintendent Terry Grier, Houston ISD trustees Monday backed off on voting this week on closing the schools to instead include them in a more comprehensive study involving several more small elementary and middle schools.

Love, Grimes, Rhoads and McDade elementaries may still be closed -- but that determination will be delayed while they are put on hold and considered along with the other small schools (elementaries with fewer than 400 students and middle schools with fewer than 500).

Grier couched the measure in terms of "quality." Closing these schools wouldn't be just to save money -- despite millions of dollars of cuts, HISD still has to find another $64 million to counter its anticipated funding shortage. With the reduction in both per pupil allocations in the next year and in the small school subsidy, he said the district has to consider whether a small school would be able to provide enough services to deliver a good education.

A series of community meetings will be undertaken to get public comment before the board puts the measure up for a vote in another two to three weeks.

Up for consideration:

Sherman Elementary to be consolidated into Crawford Elementary.

Atherton Elementary and E.O. Smith Elementary to be consolidated; a new school is being constructed at the Atherton site.

E.O. Smith Middle closed and its students moved to Fleming, Jackson, McReynolds middle schools and the Gregory-Lincoln Education Center.

Dogan Elementary be consolidated with Emmett Scott Elementary; a new school is being constructed at Dogan.

The consolidation of Sharpstown Middle School and the International High School at Sharpstown. The new school would serve students in grades 6-12.

Consolidate the North Alternative Elementary and the South Alternative Elemenary into a new program at Charles Eliot Elementary.

The district also proposes changes to attendance zones at Bonham,Valley West, Gross and Milne elementaries, and Attucks, Thomas and Dowling middle schools.

In other belt-tightening news, the administration is recommending the price of a school lunch be raised next year from $1.85 to $2.25. The Obama administration's call for healthier food along with price rises in produce and milk have made this necessary, trustees were told. Students receiving free- and reduced-price lunches will not be affected by this.

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