HISD Closing Under-Enrolled Magnet Programs While Adding More Promising Options

Twenty of HISD’s 115 magnet programs are not attracting enough students

Twenty HISD magnet school programs that are not drawing enough students from outside their neighborhoods will be closed after the 2013-2014 school year under a plan announced Thursday.

These 20 magnet school programs enroll a combined 758 students from outside their attendance zones.

Non-zoned magnet students represent just 4 percent of the total enrollment at the 20 schools, far short of the 20-percent target established in HISD policy. Middle schools and high schools can also meet the enrollment target if they enroll at least 100 non-zoned magnet students per grade level. The 20 schools are not expected to meet the minimum enrollment requirement by the Oct. 25 deadline. Students who are currently enrolled in magnet programs that are being closed after the current school year will be allowed to continue attending those schools until they complete the highest grade level offered at those schools.

The 20 magnet programs have a combined magnet budget (including transportation costs) of about $4 million, which will now be freed up for other academic purposes.

The magnet phase-out plan was developed in accordance with a new magnet program policy adopted by the HISD Board of Education designed to ensure quality within the district’s portfolio of school choice options.  That policy set minimum standards for magnet programs to meet when it comes to attracting students from outside their attendance boundaries.

At the same time HISD is phasing out less popular magnet programs, the district is also adding new magnet programs designed to meet current demand. Last month, HISD won a $12 million federal grant for six magnets that emphasize science, technology, engineering, and math instruction.

Magnet programs that are being eliminated after the current school year are located at the following schools: Burbank, Elrod, Law, Pleasantville, Wesley, and West University elementary schools; Attucks, Deady, Dowling, Holland, Jackson, Key, and Patrick Henry middle schools; and Jones, Lee, Madison, Sharpstown, Westbury, Wheatley and Worthing high schools.

Eighteen magnet programs placed on probationary status 

In addition, the district has also identified 13 magnet programs that are not meeting minimum student achievement standards required for maintaining magnet status. Schools on this list are now on probationary status, pending improvement in student achievement during this school year. Any of the 18 magnet programs now on probation that do not meet minimum student achievement requirements this school year will be phased out, losing half of their magnet program funding during the 2014-2015 school year and all of their magnet funding thereafter.  These schools are: Crespo, Garden Villas, Helms, MacGregor, Pugh, Ross, and Wainwright elementary schools; Hogg and Long middle schools; and Kashmere, Scarborough, Sterling, and Washington high schools.

HISD is currently hosting several school choice fairs across the district to inform parents of the different educational choices available to their children as they transition into middle and high school.

Magnet applications for the 2014-2015 school year will be accepted from Nov. 4 to Dec. 20, 2013 for guaranteed consideration in the first round of applicants. For more information, contact the Office of School Choice at 713-556-6947 or visit houstonisd.org/magnetHISD School Choice fairs will be from 6 – 7:30 p.m. at the following locations:

(School Choice Fairs for elementary school students transitioning to middle school in 2014-2015)

(School Choice Fairs for middle school students transitioning to high school in 2014-2015)