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Appeals Granted: Two HISD Schools to Keep Magnet Status

Burbank and Elrod elementary schools to keep magnet status for 2014-2015 academic year

The Houston Independent School District is restoring the magnet designation at two elementary schools following a thorough review of the schools’ presentations and related documentation during the appeal process. Burbank and Elrod elementary schools will keep their magnet designation and funding for the 2014-2015 academic year.

“As we listened to the magnet program representatives who presented appeals, the committee was looking for clear evidence that these programs were on the path to meeting the magnet standards within one to two years,” HISD Assistant Superintendent of School Choice Dave Wheat said.  “After a lot of deliberation, we’re pleased to announce that we are restoring the magnet designation at Elrod and Burbank elementary schools.”

During the appeal process, Burbank administrators presented to the committee nearly 40 additional applications they have received from non-zoned students. Those additional applications bring their percentage of non-zoned students to 16.52 percent, just under the minimum standard of 20 percent. In addition, Burbank will be adding three classrooms to increase capacity and accommodate additional non-zoned students.

As for Elrod, school administrators showed the committee their consistent enrollment growth over the past three years, going from 4 percent at the start of the magnet program to nearly 14 percent this year. Also, because Elrod changed its magnet theme in 2012 from math, science and technology to Emerging Medical Scholars, the committee felt more time was needed to assess the program’s viability.

However, Burbank and Elrod, like all magnet schools in HISD, will be re-evaluated at the conclusion of the 2013-2014 school year and every year thereafter to assess compliance with the enrollment goals and state accountability system ratings.

The Magnet Appeal Review Committee is still reviewing Law Elementary’s appeal, with a site visit planned for Wednesday morning.

“This is HISD’s first step in applying system standards across the district to ensure we maintain a high level of excellence at all schools,” Wheat said. “It is critically important that we ensure all magnet programs are meeting the enrollment and academic requirements set forth by HISD’s Board of Education.”

In May of 2013, the HISD Board of Trustees adopted a new policy that included the 20 percent non-zoned enrollment requirement for all magnet schools and the 100 non-zoned magnet students per grade level requirement for secondary magnet schools. The policy also stated that magnet schools would be held accountable for student academic outcomes aligned with the Board Monitoring System and/or current accountability standards.

As a result, HISD made the decision last month to remove the magnet designation from 20 magnet schools with the lowest percentages of non-zoned students enrolled. The schools were notified of this decision and were given the opportunity to appeal. Thirteen campuses filed an appeal but only Burbank and Elrod were approved to keep their magnet programs.

At the end of this academic year, the following 18 schools are slated to lose their magnet status and will only receive half of their funding during the 2014-2015 academic year: Law (under review), 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.