More schools closing in Houston ISD

At a March 13 meeting packed with community members, the Houston Independent School District Board of Education voted to close Dodson Elementary School and repurpose Jones High School.

The vote to close Dodson divided the board 5-4, with board members Anna Eastman, Rhonda Skillern-Jones, Wanda Adams and Paula Harris opposed to the move.

District administrators had cited declining enrollments at both schools as the reason for the proposed closures.

Both schools are located in heavily minority areas of the city.

Critics have argued that school closures tended to negatively impact student achievement through removing students from a familiar environment. Even repurposing the old neighborhood schools into magnets tends to deny access to the old neighborhood students, who have to reapply for competitive admission.

The vote to convert Jones was 6-3. Eastman, Skillern-Jones and Harries voted to reject the repurposing.

The closures were a sharply limited version. On February 4, district administrators had originally proposed closing five schools: Jones, Dodson, Henderson Elementary School, Port Houston Elementary School and Fleming Middle School.

HISD Board President Julie Stipeche removed Henderson, Port Houston and Fleming from the list of potential closures last week. Stipeche retains that power under board policy.

Jones will return from a standardly zoned high school to a dual enrollment mode, in which students can complete high school credit.

According to a press release from the district, students formerly in Jones’ attendance area will have priority in attending the new Futures Academy.

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