Last week, San Antonio Independent School District officials announced their recommendation to close 19 campuses, a little under 20% of the district’s total schools. The schools targeted for closure are distributed across the district but are more highly concentrated in the city’s South and East sides.
District officials said these closures were recommended in order to distribute the district’s funding more evenly between students in the district. Critics of the plan point out that an even distribution of funds is not necessarily an equitable distribution.
The sharpest criticism of the recommended closures came from members of The Schools Our Students Deserve Coalition, which is made up of a variety of district stakeholders, including parents and educators. The coalition is spearheaded by our local union, the San Antonio Alliance.
The coalition argues that the plan targeted more schools for closure than is necessary. Coalition members testified last week that some communities need additional support and funding due to historical divestment in those communities.
San Antonio Alliance President Alejandra Lopez said the issue of equity should be viewed “through an intersectional lens that takes into account the various ways that our communities have been affected through institutional, historic, and systemic oppression.”
A study of school building capacity was first brought forward and approved by trustees in June of this year. Since then discussions of building capacity have taken place under the general banner of “rightsizing.” The San Antonio Alliance has been in active communication with district officials since the “rightsizing” initiative first began.
SAISD is currently taking public comments on the closure plan. The Board of Trustees will ultimately decide which and how many schools will be closed. The final vote will likely take place at the board meeting on Nov. 13. Any changes approved by the board wouldn’t go into effect until next year.
We bring this situation in San Antonio to your attention because it’s far from unique. Given the state’s chronic underfunding of public education — something that has not been addressed in the 88th Legislature — many school districts are at their financial breaking points. In San Antonio ISD, the issue has been compounded by rapid growth of privately run charter schools, many of which have popped up around the block from existing public schools.