THURSDAY: WUES Attendance Issues Back on Agenda For HISD Board

May 11, 2015 By:Anne Marie Kilday

Local News

Parents of students at West U Elementary School are engaged in a massive email and letter-writing campaign, in an effort to convince the Houston Independent School District’s Board of Trustees not to vote on a plan that could re-zone some students at the acclaimed elementary school.

The HISD board might consider a plan aimed at addressing classroom overcrowding at elementary schools across the district as early as Thursday. A meeting to set the agenda is typically held on the Monday afternoon before the board’s regularly scheduled meetings.

In a recent letter to parents of WUES students, Principal John Threet said the HISD board is scheduled to vote May 14 “on a plan to give students zoned to Roberts, Twain, and West University elementary schools the option of attending their zoned school or the Rice School. Currently the Rice School has no attendance zone.”

“HISD is committed to partnering with parents to develop a plan that benefits all students, and we appreciate your feedback,” Threet said.

Earlier this year, the HISD board postponed consideration of a similar plan, which might have required students at WUES to be zoned to the Rice School. That plan could have resulted in some siblings attending different elementary schools.

HISD’s proposal earlier this year — to cap enrollment at some district elementary schools — is a result of a decision by the Texas Education Agency to limit “class size waivers” that exempt many elementary classrooms from the state mandated teacher to student ratio of 22 to 1. HISD last year sought 1,500 such waivers for elementary schools. District officials aim to cut that number in half by the 2015-2016 school year, with plans to continue the decreases incrementally through 2019.

The email and letter-writing campaign, which is being promoted by the West U Elementary PTO, includes the email addresses of all of the 9 members of the HISD board, HISD Superintendent Terry Grier and other top HISD administrators.

A “suggested” text for letters and emails includes support for WUES, which is academically successful despite “slight” overcrowding.

The text states: “We should not be fixing schools on the backs of our children.  The district needs to first address a myriad of other problems in our struggling schools before we ever use children as pawns to fix what the administration, and you as policy makers, should first address…our actual struggling schools.”

The suggested letter makes five key points to HISD’s leaders, including:

“Please do not attempt to fix what is not broken.  At West University Elementary, there is indeed “overcrowding” by strict adherence to the state guideline of 22:1.  However, the overcrowding is by 1 or 2 students in each classroom.  The school IS working based on HISD criteria, non-profit ranking criteria, and state ranking criteria.  Please tell me if you disagree.  In various HISD meetings, West University Elementary is always highlighted as an example of what IS working, so why fix what is not broken?”

The lengthy letters also express concerns about pushing some children out of The Rice School, where many parents have chosen to send their children as a better option than their zoned schools.

“It is neither fair, just, nor right, that students from West University Elementary, Poe Elementary, Twain Elementary, and Roberts Elementary should take those spots,” the suggested text states.

The letter also suggests that the state mandated class size limits of 22 students for 1 teacher may not be the best alternative for struggling students. Calling the rezoning efforts a “haphazard plan,” the suggested text states that a better way to fix failing schools is to provide them with “good teachers,  good leadership, and good facilities. “

And, the suggested letter questions the motives of the HISD board.

“You as board members enjoy the luxury of school choice as is evidenced by the fact that several of you have children that attend elite private schools and other magnet schools.  We send our kids each day into a district that we believe will do right by our children.  Your current proposals undermine that belief.  Instead of expending time and energy into “fixing” schools that are not broken, please first focus on the struggling schools that need new facilities, quality teachers, quality leaders, and spend time and resources on efforts that will ensure a quality education for all.  And please ask yourselves this: are you making policy for your own children, or for other people’s children?”





10 Responses to “THURSDAY: WUES Attendance Issues Back on Agenda For HISD Board”

  1. Lucille Gallman Says:

    This is on H.I.S.D. website:  Houston, TX

    Houston ISD @HoustonISD
    · 11h 11 hours ago
    #HISD trustees don’t pass optional, secondary boundary for Roberts, Twain, West U. Move would’ve sent overflow kids to nearby Rice School.

  2. Lucille Gallman Says:

    Midway through the Channel 13-4:00 news today, there was a story and video about West University Elementary and H.I.S.D’s possible effects on all elementary schools. There will be more information on the channel’s 6:00 news. What was shown at 4:00 can probably be seen on their website.

  3. Sonny B Says:

    My guess is that our 4,000 homes pay a total of 50 million a year to HISD.
    Yes, West U can run a school district competitive to private schools and save our residents tax dollars

  4. Lucille Gallman Says:

    West University was incorporated in January 1924 making it the City of West University Place. The State Legislature created West University Independent School District in spring 1925. The elementary and junior high schools were then built. In addition, there were according to a Southwestern Times April 12, 1945 edition, 17 temporary structures, commonly referred to as “shacks” added. Just about all of my West U Elementary classes were in the shacks. If overcrowding is the problem, maybe the best chance of keeping West U Elementary School a neighborhood school is to use shacks again. I don’t know if any are still on the school grounds now, but they were well-built wooden structures with two classes in each building. They had lots of windows and of course heating and cooling now. My memories of attending class in shacks are very positive and just fun. Since residents of West University Place and Southside Place voted to join HISD in March 1929 the best solution may be to solve the space problem. Would West U really want to take on the schools?

  5. Sonny B Says:

    Your a smart and positive thinking woman. I agree, once we get an official committee established and focused on this injustice in spend of HISD taxes, we will come up with a winning plan for our grade schoolers.

    HISD is trying to gain a head start while we are changing leaders.

  6. Lucille Gallman Says:

    I think the papers that must have been signed turning over the West University Place Independent School District over to the Houston Independent School District in 1928 should be examined. Also, maybe there was something in the election that made it happen. After reading the old issues of the Southwestern Times, the city fathers (probably not mothers in 1928) might have left, if not a way out of the deal, at least something to negotiate with.

  7. Sonny B Says:

    Bob and Burt bring a wealth of political capital and Riley brings raw passion to the council. This combination is perfect to move ideas forward I believe this council team will listen to a dedicated committee that does the necessary homework and provides proposed actions to represent our little west U citizens K – 5.

  8. Sonny B Says:

    I was not elected as one of your council members to jump into this issue officially.
    I recommmend to the Mayor and council elect we immediately establish a formal committee under the direction of our city officials that is focused on what is best for our residents children attending K – 5.

    We pay much more than our share in HISD taxes and each child resident in West U K – 5 should have a place in our WUES at a teacher ratio competitive with area private schools.

    We CAN solve this overcrowding problem by expanding our existing school and making our residents priority in zoning.

    Worst case, let’s get the process moving towards an independent school zone like we had prior to 1927.

    It’s time to have our voices heard at HISD!

    • Brokelyn Says:

      Now that you’ve endorsed this idea, Sonny, the Slate will surely reject it.

  9. Lucille Gallman Says:

    Re: “The lengthy letters also express concerns about pushing some children out of The Rich School, where many parents have chosen to send their children as a better option than their zoned schools.” It probably should be The Rice School.

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