AISD Mystery

RECEIVED Mon., Sept. 9, 2019

Dear Editor,
    Everyone who has been paying attention understands that AISD cannot continue to tap dance around their impending budget crisis. Nor can we as a community continue to fail to address the real and longstanding disparities in how public education is provided in different areas of our city. Both issues must be addressed – swiftly and in earnest. Parents, students, staff, and faculty are ready to hear some hard news. Some are waiting for long-promised relief. However, a mystery remains: The district’s current proposal to close and consolidate a dozen schools is astonishing considering how quickly Austin has grown recently, and that AISD officials have repeatedly communicated to parents and media that a districtwide redrawing of school zones is both imminent and inevitable ["AISD Releases Plans for School Closures and Consolidations," News, Sept. 5]. So why is the school board hellbent on closing inner-city schools (within a breathtaking two- to three-month period, from announcement to decision) if a full-scale opportunity to reorganize funding, relocate students, and improve equity is just around the corner? Do they think that when this zoning battle comes they’ll have a better chance of getting what they want if they have fewer moving pieces, and fewer communities to answer to? The more prudent and humane course of action – one that minimizes waste and trauma –would be to wait for a full and considered assessment of how these looming boundary changes might be leveraged as low-cost starting points to simultaneously address campus underpopulation and economic segregation. Only after that should we consider shuttering schools, which eviscerates the communities that grow (and grow up) around them.
Ben Reed
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