Thousands of SAISD parents, students to learn fate of schools on Monday

SAISD Board of Trustees to vote on final recommendation for school closures

SAN ANTONIO – Thousands of San Antonio ISD students and staff will soon learn if their schools will be closed next year for good.

The SAISD Board of Trustees is expected to take a final vote on Monday evening on the district’s “rightsizing” plan.

The vote will be the end of a months-long process that started in June to reduce the amount of schools in SAISD, but many parents and community members are still fighting to have their voices heard.

Shannon Oster-Gabrielson is one of many SAISD parents fighting until the end to keep their school open. Her daughters attend Lamar Elementary, one of 15 schools that could close after this year.

“I was shocked that Lamar was not removed from the list,” said Oster-Gabrielson. “We’re in a very unique position that’s often used against us. One-third of our, of our students come from the neighborhood. The rest come from the district and from across the city.”

On Friday, SAISD released its final recommendation for school closures and mergers within the district. The original draft recommended 19 closures.

Collins Garden, Pershing, Ogden, and Riverside Park elementary schools were removed from the final list, while Lamar was not.

“We are a high-performing school; we have some of the best outcomes of all the elementary schools in the district,” said Oster-Gabrielson. “When you look at the equity report that was published, it says that students that move from a high-performing school to a lower-performing school have lower outcomes, that our students will be impacted.”

SAISD officials said the closures are necessary because of declining enrollment and to consolidate resources.

Over the past decade, the district went from over 54,200 students to 45,200 this year, according to the Texas Education Agency.

Oster-Gabrielson said SAISD rushed the process.

“They had a series of neighborhood meetings. Initially, they did not go to every school. They made no attempts to encourage parents. They sent some emails. There was maybe a flier sent home. We couldn’t be a part of the original criteria,” said Oster-Gabrielson. “They’re closing our school and we deserve to have a voice.”

“I think it’s a bad call. This has been a good school for a lot of kids and it’s been a great feeder to other schools,” said Bill Bordelon, a neighborhood resident.

Bordelon questioned SAISD’s decision-making process and said Lamar’s closing would have a long-term impact on families.

“You’re taking these kids out of a secure, safe environment that they all know each other,” Bordelon said. “Another thing I’m concerned about is the bond money we voted for. If we had know these schools would be closed, we wouldn’t have voted for that. And I feel like there’s a bit of deception considering the fact the superintendent said we’ve known for years some of these schools need to be closed.”

If the board approves the final recommendation, students from Lamar would move to Hawthorne Academy starting next school year.

“That’s not meant to disparage our receiving school, but what that does is that says they don’t care about our 316 students right now. That’s OK if our outcomes suffer,” said Oster-Gabrielson.

About the Authors

RJ Marquez is the traffic anchor/reporter for KSAT’s Good Morning San Antonio. He also fills in as a news anchor and has covered stories from breaking news and Fiesta to Spurs championships and high school sports. RJ started at KSAT in 2010. He is proud to serve our viewers and be a part of the culture and community that makes San Antonio great.

Joe Arredondo is a photojournalist at KSAT 12.

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