South San ISD board votes to close schools despite pleas from parents, teachers
SAN ANTONIO – Faced with fewer students, the South San ISD board voted 4-3 to close three schools Wednesday night despite passionate pleas from parents and teachers.
Athens Elementary, Kazen Middle and the alternative school will shut down at the end of this school year, saving $3.7 million.
“The community's talking,” said Stacey Alderete, a parent who’s joined three others in leading the fight against the closures. “They don't want this to happen, and give us time to search for other alternatives. Don't just shove something down the community's throat.”
South San ISD superintendent Abelardo Saavedra said every parent he’s met wants the schools to stay open. However, he said the problem of under-enrollment has plagued the district for 20 years.
For the past decade, enrollment has held relatively steady in the range of 9,800 students. The head count has dropped about 200 students this year, and the downward trend is projected to continue, partly because more parents are choosing charter schools for their children.
Tiffany Mesa, PTO president at Athens Elementary, said her first grader is heartbroken.
“It'll be hard for my kids, and it'll be sad to leave all the teachers,” Mesa said.
More than a dozen people, including at least four teachers, addressed the board Wednesday night. Everyone spoke against closing any schools.
After summer break, Athens Elementary students will attend one of two other schools, Carrillo or Price, and Kazen Middle students will attend either Zamora or Dwight.
The board also decided to create an advisory committee that will help determine the future of the closed campuses.