State lawmakers weighing in on turmoil surrounding reopening of 3 South San ISD schools

SAN ANTONIO – State lawmakers are getting involved in the turmoil surrounding the reopening of three South San Independent School District campuses.

State senators Pete Flores and Jose Menendez sent a letter to the Texas Education Agency asking that a conservator step in to address concerns with South San ISD’s board.

The letter addressed to Mike Morath, commissioner of the TEA, said the actions by the board could “jeopardize the well-being of the district in the service of winning local elections or simply calling attention to oneself.”

Earlier this year, the South San ISD board appointed a committee and instructed the superintendent to begin making plans to reopen Athens Elementary, Kazen Middle School and West Campus High school. The move is expected to cost the district millions.

The schools were previously closed due to declining enrollment. The current board believes the reopening of the schools would bring back students that were lost to surrounding school districts and charter schools.  

The move has been met with resistance from some community members and students who say the money would be better spent in improving current campuses or providing mental health programs.

The letter to Morath also mentions the board’s decline to hear a $10 million proposal to partner with the city of San Antonio to reopen one of the schools to build a multipurpose center offered by Councilman Rey Saldana.

The letter also said the board’s behavior is partly to blame for students choosing to leave South San ISD:

“We fear that if the new board is left to its own devices, it will undo all the solid foundation work that was exerted to transform the district for the better.” 

Flores asks that the TEA get involved immediately. Morath confirmed they have received the letter and he is reviewing it.

On Twitter, state Rep. Roland Gutierrez, District 119, shared a letter he sent to Flores reprimanding him for “attempting to interfere in the operations of a school district.”

“(South San ISD has) worked through any perceived deficiencies and (is) functioning quite well,” Gutierrez said. He “strongly recommended” that Flores not send a letter to the commissioner.

South San ISD does not fall in Gutierrez’s district.

A school board meeting is set for Thursday. Among the agenda items are continued discussions on the reopening of the schools.

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