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10% of students impacted by San Antonio ISD’s school closures are leaving the district

A brick two-story school with a tree-lined ramp leading up  to it and a little free library outside.
Camille Phillips
Gates Elementary near Pecan Valley Dr. is one of 15 San Antonio ISD schools permanently closing in May.

The San Antonio Independent School District reported that 456 students impacted by school closures won’t return to the district in the fall.

That’s almost 200 more students leaving SAISD than had been confirmed last month, and it raised the percentage of impacted students leaving the district to 10%.

In order to make better use of limited funding, SAISD trustees voted in November to permanently close 15 schools and merge or redesign five more. The decision affected nearly 5,000 students.

During a presentation to the board Tuesday evening, Deputy Superintendent Patti Salzmann said many of the students who won’t return are moving to another district or returning to their home district.

“We know from our historical data that many of our students that enroll in [our early childhood program] because our program is free wind up going back to their home campuses when they're done,” Salzmann said.

“We also know that we've had some families that are not returning due to mergers," she added. "We're still in contact with many of those families. As you know, some of our families are changing their minds both ways.”

District officials said nearly 90% of teachers impacted by the closures have been placed, but six principals are still undecided.

During public comments, teacher union President Alejandra Lopez asked the board not to forget about other teachers who have been displaced, especially in secondary schools. Most of the schools being closed are elementary schools.

SAISD staff and community have not really received clear communication from SAISD administration regarding the reasons and criteria for the large number of displacements,” Lopez said. “Transparent communication is essential in building trust, especially as we continue to move through rightsizing.”

Later in the meeting, Superintendent Jaime Aquino said that, in addition to the 250 teachers impacted by school closures, there are about 90 teachers displaced from other schools. He said they are no longer needed at their current schools because of declining enrollment.

“I want to emphasize it is not an anomaly,” Aquino said. “For months, I've been predicting both to the board and to the public … [that] our enrollment [will] continue to decline.”

Aquino said teachers are displaced due to enrollment loss every year, but the district’s high turnover rate means they can easily find a job in another school in the district.

But Aquino those teachers will still be needed — just at another school in the district.

“We don't anticipate that people will lose jobs,” Aquino said. “I mean, we have huge vacancies.”

Aquino said SAISD usually needs to fill about 530 teacher vacancies each year.

Texas Public Radio is supported by contributors to the Education News Desk, including H-E-B Helping Here, Betty Stieren Kelso Foundation and Holly and Alston Beinhorn.

Camille Phillips can be reached at camille@tpr.org or on Instagram at camille.m.phillips. TPR was founded by and is supported by our community. If you value our commitment to the highest standards of responsible journalism and are able to do so, please consider making your gift of support today.