As the Houston school system continues to debate closing 17 elementary and middle schools in the district, alumni and community members at one school are creating a video awareness campaign to save their school.
Opened in 1952, B.H. Grimes Elementary School in Houston’s Sunnyside neighborhood, may see its final bell ring come June, as Houston Independent School District trustees consider closing small schools in the district.
Local Grimes alumni are hoping to keep the doors to the school open a little longer and they are pleading their case with a video, which is today’s featured video on the Texas Watchdog home page.
“When you go to HISD meetings, they show their videos,” said Travis McGee, a civic leader in Sunnyside. “Their videos paint the pretty picture, but that’s not reality. Our video shows the reality.”
The video begins with facts and images of the school, which was named after Buchanan H. Grimes, a one-time HISD janitor who worked his way up to eventually become a principal.
McGee, a Grimes graduate, produced the video with with help from a friend, also a Grimes graduate.
“The only thing (HISD) are looking at are attendance numbers,” McGee said. “There’s more to it. They need to look at this area, this neighborhood. They need to do their research.”
HISD trustees were scheduled to vote on whether to close Grimes and three other elementary schools -- Love, McDade and Rhoads -- earlier this month. That decision was put on hold, and now there are 17 schools facing possible closure at the end of this school year. Grimes is once again on the list.
If Grimes closes, students would be sent to one of three schools that are all less than two miles away. How students would get to these other schools has been a concern of McGee’s since the beginning.
In the video, McGee shows some of the routes students would have to take to get to the other campuses, Bastian and Mading elementaries and Woodson, a pre-kindergarten-through-eighth grade school. The video shows streets without sidewalks, dead-end road-blocks, and several busy intersections.
On top of the logistics of the routes, McGee says the neighborhood students would be traveling through is not the safest.
“We have some of the highest crime rates in Harris County,” he said. “There is a lot of gang affiliation. We have prostitutes and child predators on the streets. This is an at-risk area, an economically disadvantaged area.”
McGee says he has shared his transportation concerns with the district and has been told they are looking into it.
The video also highlights prominent Grimes alumni like state Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, along with providing parents and community members with information about how to help and whom to contact.
If McGee could have it his way, he says he would like to see Rhoads and Grimes combined into one neighborhood school. Until then, he says he will keep fighting for Grimes and plans on making more videos to help his cause.