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Magnet reprieve

This was unexpected.

Terry Grier

Terry Grier

HISD Superintendent Terry Grier has reversed course and decided to give 20 struggling magnet programs another year before eliminating all their extra funding.

The sudden switch from the plan he unveiled last month comes after some parents and school officials expressed surprise their programs were on the chopping block.

Under Grier’s new plan, the campuses will keep half their magnet funding next school year. They will lose the full amount, which ranges from tens of thousands of dollars to more than $200,000, in fall 2015.

Making changes to HISD’s beloved magnet schools – which offer special courses in areas like fine arts and technology – has proved difficult for Grier and his predecessor, Abelardo Saavedra. Principals and parents covet the “magnet” label, even though some programs are lagging in quality.

Phasing out the funding over two years should give principals more time to review their budgets, perhaps allowing some to continue their programs in a limited form.

Still, students who transfer into those schools no longer will be guaranteed busing.

“We want to be reasonable,” Grier said in an interview about his new plan. “We never had the intent to hurt or destroy magnets, and I think this is the right thing to do.”

See here for the background. This is a phase-out, not a reversal, so the schools and students will have time to adjust to the change in status of their schools. This was indeed the right thing to do, to soften the blow and allow for a transition period. Several principals of the affected schools have appealed the ruling on their magnet status. I’m not exactly sure how that will work. The schools that were “on probation” will maintain their level of funding while they work to achieve the improvements that are required of them.

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