Local

La Marque considers closing elem. school

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tough decisions are coming for a local school district trying to make up for millions of dollars. On the table Thursday night are a tax increase, layoffs, and even the closure of an elementary school.

The school district is discussing all of these proposals because of a big shortfall in the budget.

The public session started at 7pm Thursday night, after a closed door session at 6pm. The school board blames the state and a lack of funding.

Ron Lyssy has a house across the street from Inter-City Elementary. He says closing the school is a logical solution.

"There's nothing here. There's no industry, there's no jobs," said Lyssy.

When we asked Lyssy if closing the school and cutting jobs surprises him, he replied, "No."

However, for those who attend school here, closing Inter-City Elementary is too drastic.

"It's not gonna solve the problem. It's just gonna make more (problems) because the schools are already too crowded," said parent Theo Handerson.

"It's so sad to close the school," said parent Maria Reyna. "A lot of times I don't have a car to pick up my six kids."

The La Marque school district has a $4.9 million budget shortfall they are struggling to deal with. The district Thursday night is considering two options. The first is cutting 47 jobs district-wide and closing Inter-City Elementary campus. The student population would be distributed elsewhere within the district.

The other option is voting to hold an election to raise taxes with an increase from 10 to 13 cents. When translated to an average La Marque home valued at $84,000 that means going from $84 to an estimated $109 per year.

"This is causing us to have to a program change that will affect our students, it will affect our staff, our morale. It is not a decision the board is taking lightly," said Denise McLean, La Marque ISD spokesperson.

Inter-City students would move to Lake Road Elementary which along with Simms Elementary would become Pre-K through second grade campuses. Westlawn and Highlands Elementary schools would house grades three through five.

The school board president says they are also considering raising property taxes and blames a lack of state funding for La Marque's budget problems.

"We're losing money and it's impacting our district. I don't see why districts besides us are getting more per student than we are. That doesn't seem correct or fair to our community and our children," said Joe Cantu, La Marque ISD Board President.

Parents understand the budget problems, but question whether closing Inter-City is the answer.

"It might be better but if they are still going to cut jobs then what would they accomplish by closing the school?" asked parent Liz McDaniel.

That's the question that the board will be asking tonight.

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la marque, local, cynthia cisneros
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