Saavedra backs off magnet transportation plan

Glad to hear it.

Houston ISD Superintendent Abelardo Saavedra has temporarily withdrawn a proposal to cut spending on busing to the district’s beloved magnet schools after failing to get enough support from parents and school trustees.

Saavedra said Monday he would bring a final transportation plan to the school board in the spring, rather than next week as he had intended. The delay, he said, will allow time to look at the magnet program more comprehensively — reviewing the unequal funding among the schools, the lack of academic standards and inefficient bus routes.

Criticism immediately followed Saavedra’s announcement in early November that he wanted to limit transportation to the specialty schools, perhaps by moving bus stops farther from students’ homes. During several recent community meetings, parents complained that the proposed changes would trap students in neighborhood schools they don’t want to attend.

“We heard over and over, ‘You’ve got to slow things down,’ ” Saavedra said. “At this point I agree with that. That’s what we’ll do.”

Had Saavedra asked the board to approve a final transportation plan this month, he likely would have lost the vote.

Nothing like the specter of ignominy to alter one’s perspective on things. Like I said before, I can see what Superintendent Saavedra is getting at, and there’s some merit to it. But a little consensus and stakeholder involvement goes a long way, you know? You’d think that message might have been received by now, but apparently some lessons need to be revisited. In any event, perhaps now that we have a different Speaker in the House, we might be able to improve funding for HISD to the point where this sort of marginal cost-cutting isn’t seen as necessary. The School Zone blog has more.

By the way, Saavedra may have back off, but he isn’t backing down from a larger discussion of the HISD magnet program. Which means there’ll be more drama and controversy on the horizon. Not that this is a bad thing, if the conversation is substantive and productive. Let’s just hope this time everyone who feels they have a stake in the outcome also feels like they’re being involved in that discussion.

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