The HISD Board of Education on Thursday voted 6 to 3 to repurpose Jones High School into a specialized Futures Academy with trustees Rhonda Skillern-Jones, Anna Eastman, and Paula Harris opposed. Trustees also voted 5 to 4 to close Dodson Elementary. Anna Eastman, Rhonda Skillern-Jones, Wanda Adams and Paula Harris were in opposition. These votes come after weeks of debate and conversation including nearly 75 comments from concerned citizens during the board’s meeting and the removal of three schools from the original closure and consolidation proposal.
The trustees’ vote on Jones enables students to fulfill graduation requirements while earning industry certifications, college credits, and an associate’s degree at a dual-enrollment-model program. The school will not have an assigned attendance boundary and will not operate an athletic program. Jones High School students will be rezoned to Worthing High School and Sterling High School and will have priority enrollment access to the newly created school.
Beginning next year, students currently zoned to Dodson will be permanently rezoned to nearby Blackshear Elementary, Lantrip Elementary or The Rusk School. The Montessori program will move to Blackshear Elementary.
“School closure discussions are never easy,” HISD Superintendent Terry Grier said. “However, we must continue to have constructive conversations on the issue of school size and school efficiency. Not to do so could be harmful to our communities and the students that reside in them. The goal remains creating better, stronger schools.”
Since January when district officials proposed the closure of five schools – Nathaniel Q. Henderson Elementary School, Port Houston Elementary School, Dodson Elementary School, Fleming Middle School and Jones High School – they have heard from students, parents and others in the community. That dialogue won’t end. “Our proposals for Jones and Dodson incorporated the feedback we heard from our stakeholders and we will count on them to work with us as we execute the plans the board approved today,” Grier said.
Trustees also unanimously approved the adjustment of attendance boundaries for Billy K. Reagan K-8 School.