The Houston school system could eliminate 25 magnet programs and create 13 new ones under the much-anticipated magnet revamp recommendations presented late Thursday night.
Among the changes, the recommendations call for the Houston Independent School District to fund magnet programs based on how many students they serve. Right now, HISD magnets are funded with lump-sum payments ranging from sightly more than $5,000 to $473,000 -- payments made without regard to the number of students in the magnet program. HISD is expected to spend $17 million on its 113 magnet programs this year.
Of the 25 HISD magnets recommended for removal there are nine elementary schools and eight each of middle and high schools. Three of the schools received the state’s highest accountability rating of “exemplary” last year, and three received the state’s lowest rating of “academically unacceptable.” Twelve are rated as “academically acceptable” by the Texas Education Agency and seven are considered “recognized,” according to HISD.
Burbank, Cook, Elrod, Herrera, Law, Patterson, Valley West, Wainwright and West University elementaries are all on the removal list. HISD middle schools on the list are Attucks, Deady, Dowling, Fleming, Henry, Ryan, Key and Welch. Austin, Chavez, Davis, Lee, Madison, Sharpstown, Wheatley and Worthing high schools are also on the list.
If approved, those schools’ magnet programs would be phased out beginning next school year. That means receiving only 40% of the magnet funding they receive this year. At 40% funding levels for the 2011-12 school year, some schools would still receive $100,000 or more ($109,392 at West University Elementary and $108,397 at Elrod Elementary School); for others it means just a few thousand dollars ($6,000 at Herrera Elementary and $7,500 at Cook Elementary).
Under the proposal, funding for magnets would be allocated based on theme and grade level of the school and would range from an additional $100 to $675 per student. (See the chart below for more funding details.) (Note: Career academy funding could change depending on which community college HISD partners with. The academies are also part of the 13 proposed new magnet programs.)
The new proposal also details how much funding a school would get for additional staff, on top of the per-student dollars it receives. Montessori magnets, school-wide magnets and dedicated magnets will receive additional funding for teachers, but school-within-a-school programs, early colleges and career academies would not.
Overall, the proposal means more funding for some schools and less for others. To see all the details about individual school funding, magnet themes and more, click here.
The 13 proposed new programs would be at four elementaries (Gordon, Kashmere, Northline and Paige), one pre-kindergarten magnet at Briarmeadow, three 6-12 grade level schools (an all-boys school, an all-girls school and one at Sharpstown International School) and five high schools (Challenge Early College, East Early College, Eastwood Academy, North Houston Early College and Houston Academy of International Studies).
All of the proposed 13 are scheduled to begin next school year except for the proposed Mandarin language program at Gordon, the proposed Spanish language magnets at Kashmere Gardens and Briarmeadow and the Vanguard program proposed at Paige.
Last year HISD spent close to $5,000 to send district Superintendent Terry Grier, former Chief Academic Officer Chuck Morris, trustee Harvin Moore and a few others to San Diego to look at magnet programs in the San Diego Unified School District, where Grier used to be in charge. They looked at several magnet schools there, including a Mandarin Chinese program.
The magnet recommendations from HISD will have to be approved by trustees before anything else moves forward. The district plans on having an agenda item ready to be reviewed Monday, with hopes of a vote on the new policy and magnet program changes at the March board meeting next Thursday.
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