Waco ISD hosts community meetings to discuss possible school closures

Posted at 6:31 PM, Oct 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-30 23:11:08-04

Waco ISD is hosting community meetings to inform the public about the accountability ratings released by the state. 

Five Waco schools could be shut down if improvements are not made by 2018.

More than 100 people attended the community meeting Monday night at the City of Waco Multi-Purpose Center. 

"We want to create a movement where everyone in our city feels responsible for what happens in our inner city schools. I believe our kids can perform at higher levels," Waco ISD Superintendent Marcus Nelson said.

The five campuses that could be impacted in 2018 are G.W. Carver Middle School, Indian Spring Middle School, Alta Vista Elementary, Brook Avenue Elementary and JH Hines Elementary School.

According to the Texas Education Agency,  those campuses have needed improvement for five years.

Nelson said he and the school board have gone to Austin to meet with the education commissioner.

"According to H.B. 1842, the commissioner of education is required to either close the campus or replace the elected school board," Kyle DeBeer, Waco ISD's executive director of communications and community engagement, said.

H.B. 1842 passed in 2015 requiring the commissioner of education to close any campus that has been rated "improvement required" for five consecutive years or replaced the board of trustees.

"We believe very firmly that the decisions about these schools should be made here in Waco. Our community knows our students, knows our schools and is the best place to decide what happens to them," DeBeer said.

Nelson told parents and community members at Monday night's meeting that the problem did not happen over night.

"We have to fix the problem we created," Nelson told people at the meeting.

Nelson urged parents and those in the community to stay involved and help turn the school's around.

If the schools do not improve by next year, they could be shut down or the board of trustees will be replaced.

School district leaders say they are considering partnering with non-profit groups or charter schools to save the schools from closing. They are also looking at creating single gender middle schools and realigning elementary school grades.

The school district is currently taking feedback and will host another meeting on November 6 at 6 p.m.

Superintendent Nelson plans to give the school board a recommendation in January and the school board will have a recommendation in February.

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