AUSTIN, Texas — On Saturday, the public had their first opportunity to question the second proposed changes and school closures within the Austin Independent School District.
Dozens of parents attended to ask questions on a number of topics, namely the closure of Pease Elementary School, potential closure of Brooke Elementary School, where the money saved from these changes would go and how these changes address the special education needs.
“I have mixed feelings about how the meeting went," Gloria Vera-Bedolla, the mom of a Brooke Elementary School student, said. "I feel like our questions were not answered to my satisfaction.”
Brooke Elementary is still in the "Under Consideration" section for being closed in 2020-2021. Vera-Bedolla hopes it won't happen, but is preparing in case it does.
“We have to find a way to get these kids to school," Vera-Bedolla said. "A lot of these kids get to school late because they don’t have transportation. There’s kids that are walking. It’s cold out, and if they have to go to a school that’s even further, imagine walking that much further in the snow, in the rain, in the heat.”
Vera-Bedolla also works for the school so did not ask any questions at the meeting. However, an AISD Trustee, Arati Singh also attended and had questions and concerns she wanted answered.
“There’s three really important things," Singh said. "One is, are we really going to be freeing up money, substantial amount of money, that’s going to then be directed and invested in our children’s education? The second one is, have we really looked at – do we have accurate financial projections that we’re basing that assumption on? And I guess the third thing is we want to make sure the money we have freed up in the school changes process is being used on things that are really going to move the needle.”
AISD leaders answering the questions felt the town hall meeting went well. Each heavily emphasized this is a proposal and final decisions have not been made.
“You’ve seen changes already; I anticipate you’ll see more," said Lisa Goodnow, the associate superintendent for academics and social-emotional learning.
Goodnow and associate superintendent for elementary schools Gilbert Hicks also noted the big purpose of the plan is to put marginalized students into state-of-the-art facilities.
"We need to ensure that we attend to the well-being of our employees and to our students and ensure that whatever the final decision is that we attend to the social-emotional aspect transition that we are going to go through," Hicks said.
"The schools that are going to be impacted first are the schools that are going to get those tremendous supports," Goodnow said.
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