Campus closings, staff reductions a possibility for Amarillo ISD as enrollment declines

On Monday, the Amarillo ISD Board of Trustees held a special work session to discuss falling enrollment and decreased revenue. Currently, Amarillo ISD has 29,771 students, down over 10% since the district's all-time high enrollment of 33,673 during the 2015-2016 school year.

AISD Superintendent Doug Loomis said that the district has lost $18 million in revenue over the past two years do to falling enrollment. 

As enrollment and revenue decline, AISD will have to make some hard decisions regarding facilities and staffing. The possibility of consolidating campuses along with cutting programs and staff could become a reality in the near future.

“There’s gonna be hard decisions made. You can’t do things like you’ve always done it.

“But what those decisions are, that’s what we’re addressing right now, trying to investigate what would be the best thing to do for our district.

“So there are a lot of options. It’s very complex in a district this size, but places to, when you start talking about cutting, you’re cutting things that we don’t want to cut because it’s very important for our students and our families in our community. 

"So those are things that we don’t want to do at all. So you have to make hard decisions," AISD Board President Doyle Corder said.

Due to the current lack of funding and projected rates, the district presented a few solutions to remedy this issue, including consolidation of district elementary schools, increasing property tax rates, community funding, and as a last straw, employment layoffs and/or program cuts.

The elementary school consolidations would include the combination of Sunrise Elementary School students to Humphrey's Highland Elementary School. Park Hills Elementary School district area would be consolidated, and children on either side of the Dumas Highway would attend George Washington Carver Elementary Academy of Rogers Elementary School.

The district of Pleasant Valley Elementary School would be split into four sections, with the students' area of residence determining their new district. Those living west of the Dumas Highway would be placed in the Woodlands Elementary School district; those in the middle area would revert to the Hamlet Elementary School district; east of the highway would attend Mesa Verde Elementary School; and students living south of 24th Street would be placed in the Whittier Elementary School district. This consolidation would include new transport routes provided by the district.

Another consolidation option would be the splitting of the Landergin Elementary School district into four areas as well, with residents living north of Interstate-40 (I-40) becoming part of the Sanborn Elementary School district. Residents living south of I-40 to SW 34th Avenue would join Wolflin Elementary School's district, and those living south of SW 34th Avenue would attended Lamar Elementary School or South Lawn Elementary School.

Declining enrollment could continue in AISD if current trends hold true.

“That trend that we’ve studied is showing that we’ll lose quite a few more over the years just because of complex issues like birth rate, lower birth rates, Potter county is shrinking, while Randall county is growing and so we have schools that are shrinking,” Corder said.

AISD is looking at ways to reverse the trends and attract students to the district. Some selling points for AISD include extracurricular activities, advanced education routes, cutting edge technology and AmTech. 

AmTech which is a secondary career and technical education center, allows students to get real life experience in the workplace. 

AISD said students are also attracted to receiving higher education through the Thrive scholarship. Once a student graduates through AISD, they are offered two free years of education at Amarillo College. 

Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher (aka HP Pundit) is not a Democrat or Republican. He is a free thinking independent bringing you news and commentary with a dose of much needed common sense.

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