Johnston High School: TEA Allows 'Repurposing'
Generations of Johnston High alums ponder the fate of the 'Pride of the Eastside'
Insisting that "the best is ahead of us," Forgione said that the school's recent success at raising standardized test scores, while not sufficient to avoid closure, had persuaded the state to consider reorganizing the school rather than closing it outright or bringing in non-AISD management. "The board is united in wanting to continue high school education on this campus, in this neighborhood," Forgione said. "And what made the difference [with the TEA] was the Johnston improvement in scores." According to the district's repurposing proposal, "two independent high school(s) may be created" for Johnston, "each with a rigorous college and career focus. These new schools will join the International High School that is already located on the Johnston campus, serving recent immigrants in grades 9-10."
State rules require reassigning 75% of the teaching staff, and 50% of the current students, and renaming the school. The district plan calls for hiring eight "master teachers" in various disciplines and paying incentives for experienced teachers to move to Johnston. Forgione said that roughly 50% of Johnston-district students already transfer to other schools, so those who choose the repurposed campus should be able to attend.
Audience questions ranged from "Will there be athletics?" (yes) to why the state and district are imposing the repurposing on the school. State law requires a change, came the answer, and Guzman pointed out that in previous public meetings, "the community asked us to repurpose the school." The audience included second- and third-generation alumni eager to sustain school history, and there was considerable sentiment to incorporate the name "Johnston" into whatever new name might replace it (the school's full name is Albert Sidney Johnston). Said Guzmán, "Whatever happens from here on out, we're going to keep a renewed vision for the 'Pride of the Eastside.'"