In The Classroom

New proposal aims to keep North Forest ISD open

Friday, March 08, 2013

There is a new proposal to keep the North Forest Independent School District open. The state wants to close the troubled district and merge it with HISD, but some people in the community do not want that to happen.

Surrounded by community leaders, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee described what she calls a grand, historic plan.

"This will be the first," she said. "A partnership with public charters and the North Forest Independent School District standing together."

The Texas Education Agency has ordered North Forest ISD to shut down and move its 10 schools to the Houston Independent School District. To stop that, the district is now proposing partnering with three local public charter schools - KIPP, Harmony and Yes Prep for help. Supporters are practically gushing.

"It's the most courageous thing I've ever seen a school board do," said attorney Chris Tritico. "It's the most courageous thing I've ever seen an elected official do."

NFISD Superintendent Edna Forte said, "My excitement cannot be contained."

But what's not clear is what is actually being proposed.

"I can't really tell you that right now," Tritico said. "I mean, we're really just getting started on this."

The initial proposal calls for the district to continue collecting taxes and the charter schools to use that money to teach students and train staff.

But district officials are now backing off that plan, saying nothing at all has been decided.

Meanwhile, the TEA is calling the proposal a last ditch effort. It's statement reads in part: "Without knowing the specific details of the proposal announced today, I cannot know if this latest effort -- one of many turnaround efforts over the past several decades -- will in fact meet the needs of all students in the NFISD. Until then, the current process at the Texas Education Agency to close the NFISD will continue."

A spokesperson for HISD says they are moving forward with plans to possibly annex the school district, until they hear otherwise from the TEA.

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