It's Not About Tennis Courts

RECEIVED Thu., June 29, 2017

Dear Editor,
    A recent column regarding the AISD bond (“Public Notice: Ted Gordon Believes,” News, June 23) references the “tennis courts” of the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders and suggests slashing the $70 million currently proposed for its badly needed campus renovations.
    The Ann Richards School is a nationally ranked, college-bound school educating middle- and high-school-age girls. Its ethnically and economically diverse student body reflects AISD’s student population. Every one of its graduates – 100% – has been accepted to a four-year college, and 65% of those students will be the first in their family to graduate from college.
    Our students and faculty achieve remarkable success despite our campus, which was identified by AISD and independent consultants as a top priority for complete replacement due to its very poor condition. Our FCA score is an abysmal 27. The leaky roof, rat and raccoon droppings in the hallways, cramped library, unusable locker rooms with no hot water, inadequate athletic facilities, and other basic infrastructure challenges don’t reflect the equity and education reinvention goals AISD leadership has rightfully prioritized.
    We applaud the commendable efforts of the FABPAC committee and the tireless work of AISD Trustees, who are navigating tough tradeoffs and pursuing laudable goals. We are aligned in principle and in purpose: No student should have to choose between a gym and a library; between hot water and a dry desk.
    The Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders is one of the highest-performing schools in the district and it deserves the full measure of investment – $70 million – currently on the table, to ensure an improved campus that serves our girls’ needs and supports their aspirations. This is not about a very old tennis court. It’s about providing the most basic infrastructure that supports students to reach their full potential.
Ellen Richards
Chair Emeritus
Ann Richards School Foundation
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