San Antonio Independent School District holds hearings on school consolidation

Aug. 21, 2023
Officials say they haven't addressed years of enrollment declines and now need to close some campuses.

The San Antonio Independent School District is holding a series of community meetings on school consolidation in the face of declining enrollment.

Texas Public Radio reports that in Texas, only six districts have more schools than the San Antonio district, even though the school system, which was the state's 10th largest in 2003, had fallen to the 24th largest in 2022.

Board member Leticia Ozuna says two decades of enrollment drops with minimal school closures have put the district at a crossroads.

“Those are two trend lines that right now we cannot reconcile," Ozuna says. There is no horizon in any kind of future that's going to allow us to reconcile those."

The board plans to vote on final recommendations for closures on Nov. 13. The district plans to use the spring semester to iron out details for consolidating schools; no schools will be closed before the end of the 2023-2024 school year.

“Instead of paying an air conditioning bill in the future for an unutilized classroom space, I want to put it on our kids and on our coaches and on our teachers and on all of the support staff for our campuses,” Ozuna said.

The wide variance in how much it costs per student to operate a small school versus a large school is at the heart of the district’s proposal to close schools.

According to a district analysis, it spends around $14,000 per student to run its smallest elementary school, but only about $7,000 per student to run its largest elementary.

Superintendent Jaime Aquino said consolidating schools will save money, but not a significant amount compared with the overall budget. He said the goal is to make better — and fairer — use of the district’s funding, not reduce how much it spends.

Because the district’s goal is to distribute funding more equitably, not cut it, Aquino said he isn’t planning on laying off staff. He said employees will move with students to their new schools, and consolidations will also help with the district’s ongoing staffing shortages.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy, senior editor, has written for AS&U on a wide range of educational issues since 1999.

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