Lower Enrollment And High Costs Lead Austin To Plan 12 School Closures

The capital city has a growing population, but families with school-age kids are moving out of the city to find more affordable housing.

By Jill AmentOctober 1, 2019 12:54 pm, , ,

As one of the state’s fastest-growing cities tries to grapple with lower student enrollment in public schools and less funding for education, the Austin Independent School District, or AISD, has rolled out a plan to close 12 of its schools. Many parents are frustrated. 

Last week, AISD began holding group meetings with parents at some of the schools that are slated for closure.

Claire McInerny is the education reporter for KUT in Austin, and says that while some expected the school closures, many parents were caught off guard.

“A lot of people are saying … ‘Our city’s growing. Why are we closing schools?'” McInerny says.

The contradiction of a growing city and a shrinking school district is partially the result of Austin’s high living costs. Wealthy residents are moving in as families with kids buy more affordable homes outside the city limits. 

“We also have a lot of charter [schools] moving in, and people are choosing charters,” McInerny says.

She says the reasons AISD chose to close certain schools over others are “nuanced” and tough to explain to parents. The district plans to release a fuller explanation of its choices on Friday.

The AISD board will vote on the plan in November, and actual closures would take place over the next five years, McInerny says.

“There would kind of be a few a year, as they have the replacement/consolidated school ready,” she says. 

Many of the closed schools would be replaced by new buildings that don’t require costly maintenance. But those newly built schools wouldn’t be available to use for a while. McInerny says AISD hopes that’s an incentive for parents who are frustrated by their school’s closure.


Written by Shelly Brisbin.