SAISD will pay to maintain closed campuses until they are leased out, district says

A new community-led committee will oversee the final disposition of 15 shuttered school buildings

SAN ANTONIO — Last Friday marked a different kind of summer farewell for Nelson Early Childhood Education Center, where the public was invited the walk the halls of the pre-K-focused San Antonio ISD school for the last time. 

It was a bittersweet moment for Melissa Carrillo Cox, whose son is part of the Head Start program. 

“It’s definitely emotional,” Cox said. “Pauline Nelson was a great experience for my family and son.” 

The school is one of 15 SAISD campuses that will close this summer as part of what officials have dubbed a “rightsizing plan” to combat declining enrollment. Thursday marked the last day for most students in the district, which meant more permanent goodbyes to over a dozen schools. 

The district’s “rightsizing” strategy means many students, teachers and staff will have to relocate this coming fall. The decision was approved by trustees last November in an effort to consolidate resources amid falling enrollment, despite concerns and criticism from parents. 

As of Thursday, 76% of the student population impacted by rightsizing have enrolled at their new campus, district officials say. More than 1,100 students still need to register. 

Meanwhile, all 252 impacted teachers know where they will be teaching this fall and most administrators know which school they will report to. The remaining three are expected to be placed by Friday.

While Cox’s son’s campus and others will close, all 15 school buildings will remain owned by the district. 

“We do not intend to sell any of our buildings,” Deputy Superintendent Patti Salzmann said. “We intend to maintain our portfolio of real estate. We did communicate this to our families during our community engagement.”

Salzmann said the district has a couple of properties with no buildings on them. Recently, city officials expressed interest in one of them. 

Since the buildings will remain, SAISD established a Facility Repurposing Panel that is staffed by community members. That panel will work alongside real estate specialists to determine the final disposition of the buildings. Money made from lease agreements will go into the district’s general fund, which will be redistributed back to open campuses based on per-pupil funding.

“Ideally, what we would like to do is allow these buildings to be leased by entities that would provide some needed service to the particular community, and we would determine what that need would be by going out for more community engagement meetings and really asking the community what they would want in their communities,” Salzmann said. 

Until they are leased, the district will pay to maintain the buildings out of its existing maintenance budget. How much that cost will be, however, remains unknown; KENS 5 has asked the district about the price tag to maintain each building but we haven’t yet heard back. 

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