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HISD to keep CEP

HISD Superintendent Terry Grier has been pushing for months to get HISD out of its contract with Community Education Partners (CEP), its provider for the disciplinary alternate education program. He ran into opposition from HFT President Gayle Fallon, who has strongly disputed some of Grier’s claims about CEP’s effectiveness, and from some HISD Trustees. Grier, whose main argument was that CEP cost too much, has now given up this fight, at least for the time being.

Reversing position after months of discussion, HISD Superintendent Terry Grier told trustees today that he no longer wants them to cut the CEP contract, but keep it going, albeit with some changes.

The turnabout comes before the district has ever received its long-delayed assessment of CEP from a Texas A&M professor.

Instead of the 1,600 student spots set aside now, that’ll be reduced to 1,200 (which just happens to be about the number of spots CEP provided this school year). The target maximum will be reduced another 100 in 2011-12 and another in 2012-13.

The contract amount will go from $18,290,221 in 2009-10 to about $13.7 million in the next school year for a savings of more than $4.5 million — not including the cost of special education and transportation. The district is setting aside money to pay extra if it uses more than the maximum cap for those years.

Grier said it wouldn’t work for the district to try to start an in-house alternative program before the start of next year, and Chief Financial Officer Melinda Garrett said there wouldn’t be any cost advantage in going with the Harris County Department of Education.

I still haven’t come to a conclusion of my own about CEP. It was certainly worth reviewing, due to its size and total cost, and I’m glad Grier brought the subject up. I never saw any conclusive evidence to back up Grier’s claim that students were being referred to CEP needlessly, however, and in the absence of an alternate proposal, there was no compelling case in the end to change. Perhaps after the A&M report comes in we can take this up again. The Chron and School Zone has more.

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