Waco: More School Consolidations Possible

WACO (February 19, 2014 ) More school consolidations could be coming down the pipeline in Waco.

During an intergovernmental meeting between Waco School Board members and city officials, Mayor Malcolm Duncan expressed concerns about the affects school consolidations and closures have on the community.

In 2012, the Waco ISD closed nine campuses because of a decline in enrollment.

Five of them were elementary schools.

Duncan said some of the closed or consolidated schools were in neighborhoods the city has tagged for revitalization.

Duncan explained it's difficult to attract potential residents to a neighborhood that does not have a neighborhood school.

Waco School Superintendent Bonny Cain understood the mayor's concern, but reiterated that she and the board deemed it necessary to make changes to those campuses.

During the period when the board was considering the closures and consolidations, it was also facing a $3.4 million loss in state funding.

Cain said says the district bleeds money in operating costs for schools where enrollment is lower than 85 percent.

During the meeting, Cain shared possible plans to consolidate Alta Vista and Kendrick Elementary Schools, each of which has enrollments of about 520 students.

She also mentioned the possibility of moving students out of Cedar Ridge Elementary temporarily to demolish and rebuild the campus.

Ideas to build additions to Provident Heights and West Avenue Elementary schools were also shared.

And, Cain says depending on standardized test scores, which will be released in May, she could put together a $70 million dollar bond package to also include maintenance and technology upgrades to take before the school board as early as fall 2014.

Duncan also voiced concerns about the traffic near Bell's Hill Elementary school on Ross Avenue.

That school opened in the fall of 2012 as part of a 2008 bond package.

The school is in an older neighborhood where Duncan says the infrastructure was not designed to support such heavy traffic volume.

According to the districts website, the school's enrollment stands at 810 students.

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