West U Elementary Will Lose Magnet Program and $273,562


West University Elementary School’s magnet program will be eliminated next school year, which will cost the school $273,562 in funding.

West U Elementary is one of 20 HISD magnet programs that will be eliminated next school year because they are not drawing enough students from outside of the neighborhood.

The elementary school’s enrollment is 1,254. Of those, 41 are non-zoned magnet students, which represents 3.3 percent of the overall student population, HISD Media Relations Manager Jason Spencer told InstantNewsWestU.com. Magnet schools are expected to have about 20 percent non-zoned students, according to HISD policy.

West U’s school-based magnet programs include math and science. Magnet programs offer an integrated and enriched curriculum and teachers receive specialized training depending on the school’s focus, according to the school district.

The 20 HISD magnet programs that will be eliminated have a combined magnet budget of $4 million which will be used for other academic purposes. West U will no longer receive the additional $273,562 in magnet funding that it had been getting, Spencer said, and will be funded like all other non-magnet neighborhood schools.

HISD says that students who are currently enrolled in magnet programs that are being eliminated after the current school year will be allowed to continue attending those schools until they complete the highest grade level offered at those schools.

The phasing out of the magnet programs was developed along with a new magnet program policy that was adopted by the HISD Board of Education. The policy set minimum standards for magnum programs to meet with it comes to attracting students from outside their attendance boundaries. While some magnet programs are being eliminated, the district is also adding new magnet programs to meet current demands.

West University Elementary Principal John Threet says that the school has been anticipating the decision to eliminate the magnet program for several years but the school will continue to provide educational excellence without any of their programs suffering.

Threet issued the following statement this morning:

“The decision to close the Magnet program at West University Elementary School has been anticipated by us for many years. When our school began to achieve Exemplary status in 2001, and received recognition from the Texas Business & Education Coalition as an Honor Roll School, from Children At Risk as one of the higher performing schools in Houston and Texas, and from the National Center for Educational Achievement as a Higher Performing School, our enrollment from families within our school attendance zone began to grow dramatically. Like many successful HISD schools, we accommodated this neighborhood growth by reducing the number of Magnet transfer students we accepted each year. While we are a whole school Magnet program and all children benefit from the program, our Magnet transfer enrollment has dropped to thirty-one children. Our percentage of neighborhood children has grown from 65 percent in 1996 to 98 percent today.

“One goal of the Magnet policy is for all Magnet schools to have 20 percent of their students transfer from outside the school attendance zone. In order to meet this goal and still educate the 1,200 students who live within our neighborhood, we would have to have a total enrollment of more than 1,600 students. This isn’t possible given the size of our building.

“We anticipated the eventual reduction or loss of Magnet funds over 15 years ago and began planning for it. The District has discussed the new goals for the last couple of years and we knew we would probably lose our program. Our PTO, administration, and community have already begun planning for this eventuality and will make sure that the educational excellence for which our school is well-known will continue without any of our programs suffering. We will continue to have the same great classes, teachers, and programs upon which our reputation stands.”

InstantNewsWestu Staff

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