San Antonio ISD seeks community input on how to repurpose empty school buildings

Panel member urges neighborhood involvement in SAISD repurposing plans

SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio ISD community is actively trying to get the neighborhoods involved in what happens to the buildings left empty following the district’s “Rightsizing” plan.

Each month, San Antonio ISD’s Repurposing Panel meets to discuss ideas and plans for what to do with the more than a dozen campuses after they were shut down.

The meetings for the Repurposing Panel are open to the community. Information can be found here.

Renee Watson, a community member and a product of SAISD, is on the panel. She urges communities to be involved in having a say but is also looking for investors who need space.

“We want active engagement,” Watson said. “You may not be in education. You may not be an educator, but we’re all about the community to make sure that this happens because we want you to be involved. Don’t wait ‘til after the decisions are made to try to get involved.”

The district has hired a consulting group of real estate experts to help with suggestions and connections to repurpose the buildings. There are ideas about working with nonprofits and joint ventures, but Watson said it has to make financial sense for SAISD to ensure that money is not taken from the classrooms.

“Don’t depend on the district to put the money on the table,” Watson said. “That’s the way we’re looking at it because that’s why we’re talking about repurposing these facilities to begin with. There are a lot of issues with funding and public education.”

If you have ideas, reach out to the district by email or attend one of the meetings. More information here.

San Antonio ISD issued the following statement:

“We appreciate the work the members of our Facilities Repurposing Panel are doing to guide the district in determining the most appropriate use of more than a dozen facilities that will be vacated this summer due to the district’s rightsizing initiative. The work is complex and involves multiple steps. The panel and the district have received expert advice from The Counselors of Real Estate Consulting Corps, who is offering suggestions and a list of best practices. It will be a lengthy process, and the panel anticipates meeting frequently for months to come.

“Today, the panel met to hear two presentations from finalists who are competing to lead the community engagement process. The panel will recommend a lone finalist, which staff will consider before taking a recommendation to the board for a vote in July.

“The next step will be to publish a Request For Proposal to external entities wanting to be considered for occupying and maintaining vacated facilities. The panel will vet the proposal submissions and make recommendations to staff.

“Our families and community members will be brought into the process during public engagement meetings when potential uses are being considered for specific facilities. We will involve and honor our community by ensuring vacated school buildings are reimagined into thriving centers that serve a purpose, especially in ways that continue to benefit our neighborhoods and support our mission to educate our community’s children.”

SAISD’s ‘rightsizing’ plan takes shape with end of school year

About the Authors

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.

Alex Gamez is a photojournalist at KSAT.

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