Community members, parents push back against AISD plan for school consolidations and closures

Cuitlahoc Guerra speaks to Austin ISD staff and administrators at a Sept. 30 public meeting held at Northeast Early College High School.

Cuitlahoc Guerra speaks to Austin ISD staff and administrators at a Sept. 30 public meeting held at Northeast Early College High School.

At a community meeting at Northeast Early College High School on Sept. 30, Cuitlahoc Guerra, a community member and teacher, gave an emotional speech in both English and Spanish to Austin ISD staff and administrators.  Guerra laid out the reasons he saw AISD’s plan to close seven schools east of I-35 as inequitable.

“Slow this down. Please,” Guerra said.

Guerra was not the only community member who urged the district to rethink its school changes plan at the Sept. 30 meeting, where one group of parents wore shirts reading “Somos Ridgetop”—meaning “we are Ridgetop”—in response to the district’s plan to close Ridgetop Elementary School.

The meeting was one of 19 the district held between Sept. 23 and Oct. 10, which allowed parents and members of the community to react to the plan released Sept. 5 that calls for 12 school campuses to close as well as programming changes.

State Rep. Gina Hinojosa, D-Austin, a former AISD board member, met with her constituents in October to talk about the plan. In an Oct. 14 letter to the board, Hinojosa said community concerns include a lack of equity and a rushed process.

“This letter encompasses the reasonable concerns and requests of our shared constituents. I hope that you will seriously take them into account as you make decisions about our school communities,” Hinojosa wrote.

On Oct. 22, students, parents and community members held a rally and press conference at Brooke Elementary School on East Fourth Street to raise awareness about the impact the school changes plan will have on the East Austin community.

According to one scenario laid out by the district as part of the school changes plan, Brooke would close and students would attend either Govalle Elementary, which will open a modernized campus in December, or Linder Elementary. The district says the change will allow students to attend schools closer to their homes.

AISD’s board of trustees is scheduled to vote on each scenario making up the school changes plan Nov. 18. Trustees do not have to approve the plan in full—they could choose to approve some of the scenarios but not others.
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