South San ISD board votes to keep 4 campuses open

‘We have a year and a half before we run out of money’, South San Antonio ISD school board president says

SAN ANTONIO – The South San Antonio ISD board considered closing four campuses that reopened almost four years ago. But in the end, voted to keep them open.

Superintendent Henry Yzaguirr recommended again closing the campuses, due to a lack of enrollment and financial struggles.

“I just heard it from you, I had no idea they were talking about closing the school again. They’ve done it before, but I didn’t think they were going to do it again,” Athens Elementary School parent Melissa Anguiano said.

The discussion of the possible closures came as a shock to many parents at Athens Elementary. The schools in question were Athens Elementary, Kindred Elementary School, Kazen Middle school and West Campus High School.

Athens, Kindred, and West Campus High School were all previously closed, but re-opened in 2019.

“Where are we going to send our kids? The last time they did this they packed in a lot of kids to one school and it made it hard for us,” Anguiano said.

The reasons for closing the schools was similar this time around. Parents at student pick-up at Athens Elementary were against any schools closings.

“It’s something scary and we want to make sure we know more about it, because I would hope that it wouldn’t happen because it’s so close and convenient to where we’re at,” said Athens Elementary parent Kimberly Aguinaga said.

South San Antonio ISD school board president Ernesto Arellano said the district is dealing with a budget deficit. He believes the main driving factor is the re-opening of the campuses previously closed. He said during the re-opening, South San High School was also losing students.

TEA monitor Abe Saavedra says the district has used $8 million out of $40 million of federal COVID-19 funds to help with previously acquired financial issues. He said most districts used the funds to make teacher salaries more competitive, improve programs, and educate students.

The school board president said with federal funds running out he gives the district a year and a half before they run out of money. That’s if, things stay the way they are.

Many board members voted against closing the schools due to a lack of notice. They wanted more community discussion and input before making a decision. It is not clear if, or when that would happen.

About the Author:

John Paul Barajas is a reporter at KSAT 12. Previously, he worked at KRGV 5 in the Rio Grande Valley. He has a degree from the University of Houston. In his free time, he likes to get a workout in, spend time on the water and check out good eats and drinks.