The San Antonio school board has voted to close 15 schools and merge others, a decision that will shutter over 15% of the district's educational facilities.
The Texas Tribune reports that the schools that will close at the end of the 2023-24 school year include:
- Green Elementary School
- Foster Elementary School
- Miller Elementary School
- Highland Park Elementary School
- Knox Early Childhood Center
- Nelson Early Childhood Center
- Tynan Early Childhood Center
- Douglass Elementary School
- Forbes Elementary School
- Huppertz Elementary School
- Lamar Elementary School
- Storm Elementary School
Another two schools, Baskin Elementary School and Carroll Early Childhood Center, will close in later school years after construction at campuses where those students are moving to is completed. Gates Elementary School will be closing at the end of the 2023-24 school year and students will be sent to M.L King Academy after renovations on that campus.
Other schools will merge: Beacon Hill Dual Language Academy and Cotton Academy, Kelly Elementary and Lowell Middle School, and Gonzales Early Childhood Center and Twain Dual Language Academy.
The San Antonio district has experienced steady enrollment declines for 25 years. It had more than 61,000 students in 1996-97, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics. In 2021-22, Texas Education Agency numbers show that enrollment has fallen to 44,568 students.
Parents, teachers and community members protested the school closures until the final hour; 57 speakers signed up at the board meeting to comment, mostly in opposition to the closures.
Many pointed to an equity audit that found that past school closures in the district resulted in academic declines.
Terrance L. Green, an associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin and author of the audit, spoke to board members about the study.
“The historical data would suggest that if things weren’t done significantly differently, then the same thing could happen,” Green said about the academic outcomes. “I don’t have a crystal ball … but there is a major onus on the district.”
Green also said that charter schools, which the district has said account for 20% of recent enrollment loss, could siphon off more students in the wake of closures.
“Charter schools may not have been the primary reason why the district has lost things in the past,” he said. “But I feel confident from my qualitative data for the people who are in the neighborhoods and communities, that those charter schools are salivating at the opportunity.”