LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) – The Lubbock ISD community is feeling the impact of the budget shortfall in Austin. Trustees voted to shut down three schools, each in a separate vote.
In a 7-0 vote, trustees approved consolidating Arnett Elementary into Wright Elementary. In a 5-2 vote, Alderson Middle School students will move to Dunbar Middle School with trustees Vernita Woods-Holmes and Mario Ybarra voted against that. Trustee Chris Comer joined the opposition voting against consolidating Tubbs Elementary with Wolffarth and McWhorter, making it a 4-3 vote.
The closures will take effect in May when school gets out for the summer. It was especially emotional for parents at Tubbs Elementary and it was not an easy decision for the board, and one not all trustees agreed with.
Almost a dozen parents and residents near Tubbs Elementary made their voices heard Tuesday morning before the board made a decision.
"Austin has delivered us a tremendous amount of uncertainty," explained LISD Board Vice President Steve Massengale.
"The legislature has given us no choice, either close schools or lose teachers," Dr. Karen Garza told the board. Dr. Garza told the board and members that it costs twice as much to educate a student at a smaller school. She's optimistic that the district will only lose $10 million, right now the House Bill shows LISD losing $20.6 million.
"A school is not a building. It's the people that are in the building," said Trustee Melissa Collier, adding that she understands how emotional the decision is.
Tearfully, the Tubbs community listened as the board made the difficult decision. "You aren't a trustee because you want to close schools," explained Dan Pope, who supported the consolidations.
"I won't talk long because I get too emotional. I cannot support it. I feel like we're doing too much too soon," Vernita Woods-Holmes, a trustee who did not support the Tubbs Elementary or Alderson Middle School consolidations.
"We fought the fight, and will continue to fight to keep our neighborhood schools open," said Mario Ybarra, trustee who also did not support the Tubbs or Alderson consolidations.
"It was very hard. How can you say goodbye to a school. It is very hard but we will be okay and bounce back," Gwen Reyna explained wiping away the tears. She is Tubbs parent and was vocal about the consolidations.
It's the memories made in the halls of the three schools that teachers, families and students will be missed. Educators say the students impacted will continue to make memories with their same teachers just in a different place.
"We want parents to work with us and we will make sure they have everything they need to make sure it is a smooth transition," said Dr. Garza.
In a statement, the Lubbock Educators Association writes that while school consolidations are never easy, they must be considered in order to avoid additional employee lay-offs.
The board also approved attendance zones. McWhorter's boundaries would incorporate one third of the Tubbs students. Wolffarth Elementary would take the remaining students.
The district says that if there are any parents with questions about the changes they are there to help with the transition.
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