Capital Area Progressive Democrats
The Capital Area Progressive Democrats, under president John Lipscombe, passed the following resolution on February 1, 2011. Thank you so much CAPD for your support!
Save Our Strong Neighborhood Schools!
WHEREAS: the AISD Facilities Task Force has recommended closing Central and East Austin schools with no consideration of community, economic impact, or academic achievement; and
Whereas: the Task Force is calling the schools “underutilized” when AISD’s own data shows that some schools show a fully utilized, efficient campus. For example, Barton Hills is at 149% (current enrollment with 6th grade) capacity and Zilker Elementary is at 114% capacity. How can these schools be called “underutilized?; and
WHEREAS: Small, neighborhood schools are vital to communities and produce better education results, as proven by countless research studies AND in practice right here in our city. These are vibrant schools with strong administrators, great teachers, and excellent academics at the heart of active communities; and
WHEREAS, Task force recommendations are short sighted and in direct opposition to the City of Austin long-term planning initiatives and goals for growth. “As the city continues to work to reduce expensive suburban sprawl and facilitate sustainable growth in Austin’s urban core, the prospect of closing successful central city schools clearly runs counter to our community’s long-term planning goals.” — Mayor Lee Leffingwell ; and
WHEREAS: Academic performance was not considered. Impact on academic quality should always be a top consideration for any AISD decision, yet this plan completely disregards it. Many of the schools targeted for closure are exemplary schools. Allowing AISD to close these schools sets a dangerous precedent that impacts every Austin resident. Even when immediate cost-cutting measures are a focus, we cannot and should not ignore the fact that degrading quality of education has bigger, long-term costs; and
WHEREAS: Small, neighborhood schools are vital to communities and produce better education results, as proven by countless research studies AND in practice right here in our city. These schools have served as an anchor and the heart of their neighborhoods for many years and have prepared our children for successful, community-oriented lives; and
WHEREAS: The Task Force has left many questions unanswered and none of the “negative costs” of implementing the plan have been provided, including: recent bond money spent on upgrades to schools that are now being targeted for closure; costs of upgrading/modifying schools that would receive an enormous influx of students; transportation, safety and parking costs; loss of property tax revenue as neighborhoods that lose their schools experience declines in property values; loss of students to private education, charter schools and other school districts; and hundreds of transfer students were left out of all cost calculations entirely. We need to hold AISD accountable for ALL costs, especially when our children’s education is at stake! ; and
WHEREAS: There are other ways to cut costs besides closing schools. Current economic conditions are temporary. We should be developing a long-term vision for AISD’s budget shortfall, not a short-sighted, reactionary move that would lead to overcrowded schools and more expenditures within five years. Closing schools is a permanent decision with long-term implications. AISD should be taking action to pursue other cost-cutting measures, including the viable option of selling or leasing its underutilized prime real estate in downtown Austin. The administrative headquarters on 6th Street has an estimated market value of $29 million ; and
WHEREAS, the Texas State Comptroller FAST report identifies cost-effective practices that promote academic progress in 2010, yet AISD does not seem to be focusing on implementing any of the recommendations; and
NOW, THEREFORE; BE IT RESOLVED that the Capital Area Progressive Democrats oppose any Task Force recommendation that any neighborhood schools be closed in the name of efficiency and that we encourage the AISD school board to look for more effective ways of reducing the budget while maintaining educational excellence.
Approved on February 1, 2011