SUGAR LAND, Texas - There will be some big changes at Fort Bend County Schools over the next few years as the district continues to deal with rapid growth. That means closings and consolidations to make way for newer and bigger facilities.
On Monday evening there was a community meeting at Sugar Mill Elementary in Sugar Land, one of the schools facing at risk of closure which has spawned the #SaveSME campaign to save it.
“People move in so they can go to the school,” explained Brooke Tullos, parent to a current 2nd grader and former student herself. “I went to sugar Mill from 1990 to 1996. Three teachers are still there from when I was there. It’s awesome, I just can’t say enough good things about it."
Under the most recent Facilities Master Planning presentation, Sugar Mill Elementary is one of several Fort Bend ISD schools facing closure or consolidation. The presentation is part of a long-term plan to help the district deal with its rapid student growth. The current projection is roughly 5,000 new students by 2022.
They were chosen by the Facilities Steering committee, based on infrastructure renovation costs and/or enrollment numbers. Eventually, freeing up funds to build other schools where there’s more demand.
But to Sugar Mill parents, it still doesn’t make sense.
“Why would you close the school that is literally in the heart of a neighborhood?” said Ryan Terrell, whose son attends the school. “It’s got full enrollment. Completely supported by the neighborhood that surrounds it… it doesn’t make sense.”
Sugar Mill is a unique situation as the plan is to either close it or Lakeview Elementary, which is right down the road. Tullos says it feels like the schools have been pitted against each other.
“Right now the debate is back-and-forth on which one is more feasible to keep and to get rid of,” said Tullos.
Lakeview is over 100-years-old and they don’t want to close either. The Facilities Master Plan estimated the cost to renovate Lakeview is approximately $22.3M and the cost to renovate Sugar Mill is $9.2M
“We obviously both love our schools,” said Terrell, “we love our neighborhoods and nobody wants to see their school go away.”
Whichever school stays open would absorb the neighboring students after an expansion.
There are two more FBISD community meetings planned before the Steering Committee makes its recommendations to the board in May; Tuesday, April 10th from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. at Elkins High School, 7007 Knights Court, Missouri City, TX 77459 and on Wednesday, April 11th from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. at Austin High School, 3434 Pheasant Creek Drive, Sugar Land, TX 77498.
Click here to watch one of the presentations from a former meeting.