SAN ANTONIO — Vanessa Fears is worried her daughter’s school will close for good.
“Just overwhelmed. What am I going to do? Trying to figure out a plan, it’s just a matter of time,” Fears said. “My little one just started walking this year, which helps out a lot because I can get to work. I have to be there [work] at 7:30 [a.m.]. The earliest to drop off is 7:30 [p.m.]”
San Antonio ISD is discussing what it’s calling “rightsizing” — shutting down and consolidating schools because there aren’t enough students enrolled to fill them.
Fears’ daughter’s school Huppertz Elementary sits in the heart of a west San Antonio neighborhood and walking distance from their home. Her daughter deals with anxiety, but has grown comfortable with her school.
“The little one is just freaking out. ‘When are they going to close my school, when are they going to close my school?’” Fears said. “I was like, not tomorrow.”
The district says it’s seen a decline in enrollment because of birthrates, charter schools and landlocked districts. This is in the San Antonio area, where there are 20 school districts.
Superintendent Dr. Jaime Aquino has been transparent about closing schools, which is why SAISD is completing 14 public meetings in schools across the district before it releases the list of potential schools on the chopping block in September.
Then another 14 meetings will follow, leading up to their vote in November.
“There’s incredible feedback that we are adding,” Dr. Aquino said.
Its feedback, Dr. Aquino says, will create equity in SAISD.
“We have staff right now that have class sizes of 35, but then we have teachers with class sizes of 10,” Dr. Aquino told Spectrum News 1. “That is not equity in the workload of teachers, let alone the kids.”
During these two-hour meetings, families had about 30 minutes to write down their concerns at different stations.
“I really didn’t feel like we didn’t have time to really ask the questions and the questions that I did have were like, this is going to happen. What do you want to see when it happens?” Fears said.
Rachel Ponce felt the same way. She had two children graduate in SAISD and currently has a grandson in the district.
“If a school is going to be closed, then they need to be involved so that they can have a part in the say so,” Ponce said.
Dr. Aquino says parents can attend multiple meetings and directed them to the website to provide additional feedback, but Ponce says it’s not that easy.
“Especially when you have to pick up your kids from school, make dinner, take their baths, do their homework, all of that, it’s a lot of pressure on a parent,” Ponce said.
Pressure that Fears says she feels every day.