Three HISD schools that were facing closings got good news today. They will remain open … for now. Kashmere High School, Sam Houston High School and McReynolds Middle School have all been rated by the state as academically unacceptable in the past. Houston Public Radio’s Capella Tucker has more on what the schools have accomplished and what they still have to do to stay open permanently.
The HISD school board adopted a policy that said if Kashmere, Sam Houston and McReynolds were once again rated as academically unacceptable this year then they would be closed. But there’s a problem. Superintendent Abe Saavadra says the accountability ratings will not be released until August.
“We had believed that we would learn about the accountability ratings of these schools by mid-June. But that will not be the case. It would be irresponsible and wrong to close any of these schools at the very last minute this summer should any of them be rated unacceptable. That’s simply wrong for young people and so I will recommend to the school board that these schools remain open for the 07-08 school year.”
But school officials have reason to hope they’ve made significant progress to improve their ratings. Saavadra says says TAKS scores have improved.
“On the TAKS test this year, Kashmere students made a 20 point gain in the passing rate in science, a 13 point gain in math, a ten point gain in social studies along with a two point gain in reading.”
Kashmere Principal Charlotte Parker says financial resources made the difference. The school was able to reduce class-sizes and the library, which used to have only 100 books, was completely renovated. Going forward, Parker wants to continue to improve math and science. She recognizes the challenges that remain.
“86 percent of our kids are classified for one of the state variables as for academically at risk and we have a high mobility as well. One of the things that we do have to keep our finger on the pulse, the pulse being the completion rate and drop-out rate.”
Because of the high number of Katrina students in the state, the accountability ratings issued later this year will not take into account graduation and drop-out rates. Trustee Kevin Hoffman did not vote to shut down the schools. He says challenges remain because the school has gotten smaller over the years.
“Enrollment will continue to be a concern at all of our schools. It doesn’t matter what side of town you are on, enrollment plays a critical part on whether or not the board decides on the future of a school. So we will continue to keep a look on that. In the meantime we don’t want a child to be punished for going to a school that has, and when I say punished, I mean not having the same resources, for going to a smaller school.”
The school board will vote next month on the Superintendent’s recommendation to keep the schools open next year. Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.