Education News

Houston School District Could Change How It Funds Magnet Programs

HISD says it needs more “equitable” approach, but some parents are upset.

The top-ranked elementary and middle school in Houston is T.H. Rogers.

It has accelerated classes for advanced students.

That school could lose more than $200,000 in its magnet budget.

Parents and students asked the school board at its meeting last night not to do that – like fourth grader Elena Oliveira.

“I might never have learned French, played violin, created in-depth art, exercised and sang as well and as often as I do without this school. If the money is taken away, we will lose fundings for many things. So pretty please, with a million dollars and a cherry on top, don’t cut our school’s budget.”

But administrators with HISD say there’s a problem with how magnet schools like T.H. Rogers are funded.

There’s no standard formula – even if they have similar programs.

Mark Smith with HISD gives an example.

A student that goes to TH Rogers is receiving over $1,900 per student for their vanguard program. A school like Lanier is receiving only about $120 per student. So there’s a large discrepancy there for two schools that are expected to offer gifted and talented programs to vanguard students.”

Under the latest proposal, all vanguard schools would receive the same amount: just over $400 for every student.

Magnets with different themes – like fine arts or languages – would receive other standard amounts.

For some magnets, it’s a boost. For others, like T.H. Rogers, there’s a budget cut.

Smith says the changes are needed to make the overall magnet funding more equitable and transparent.

The school board will consider the changes at its budget meeting next week.

For more information about the final magnet proposal, visit here.

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Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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