‘It’s a double-edged sword’ | Douglass Elementary students, staff and alumni say goodbye as school closes one last time

Frederick Douglass Elementary is 110 years old and one of 15 SAISD schools closing as a part of the “rightsizing plan.”

SAN ANTONIO — On Saturday, Frederick Douglass Elementary School opened its doors to students, staff and alum for one last time. 

The school has a history that’s over 100 years old. It was the first free public school to open its doors to African-American students in San Antonio.

The school is one of 15 closing as a part of San Antonio ISD’s rightsizing plan

READ: What will happen to over a dozen SAISD buildings after schools close for good this summer?

“Dad, Mom, tios, tias, everybody, everybody’s been to Douglass,” said Victoria Boyles, a former student. “I wanted to send my kids here but I can’t do that anymore.” 

For 20 years, Mrs. Viola Gonzalez worked her way up to a teacher at Douglass. 

“What’s been saving us is the packing and keeping the kids busy,” she said. “Making sure that they’re happy because we didn’t want to them to feel the sadness of knowing that the school’s closing .”

They’ve tried to make the school year memorable since it’s the last spent at the school. 

“Everything was the last one. It was the last field day so we took more pictures, we did it bigger. We added a phone day this year for kids,” said Dr. Stephanie Ratliff, principal of Douglass Elementary. “I think every last event we tried to hold on to those moments.”

Douglass Elementary School met all major criteria to close, including a decline in enrollment, the highest elementary costs per student, and the facility being small and underused. A majority of students and staff, including principal Dr. Stephanie Ratliff will be going to Herff Elementary school next year. 

“It’s a double-edged sword like we get emotional, because we know it’s the last time we’ll walk the halls, but there’s been such a beautiful legacy here, that we’ll actually get to take to Herff which is beautiful,” Dr Ratliff said.

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