SUGAR LAND, Texas — Fort Bend ISD Learning Centers, which were intended to help disadvantaged families, are facing staffing and space issues after the school district received thousands of applications, according to Superintendent Charles Dupre.
“The volume of those interested was overwhelming,” Dupre said during Monday night’s school board meeting.
Editor's Note: Fort Bend ISD Super. Charles Dupre discusses the district's reopening plans in a video published July 14, 2020.
FBISD is one of the first Houston-area school districts that announced it would start the academic year completely online.
The Learning Centers are aimed at supporting at-need families such as the homeless, students in foster care and those without internet connectivity, healthcare workers and so on.
Dupre said they couldn’t have imagined the response from parents and guardians.
More than 15,600 families applied for access to the learning center and nearly 13,000 were approved. Dupre said the problem is FBISD was prepared to only accommodate 1,100 students—pushing 11,897 eligible students onto the waiting list.
Dupre said a lot of parents expressed frustration with being waitlisted, and the district’s trying to make it clear that it’s strictly due to staffing and capacity constraints. Only 100 students can be seated at the 11 centers currently prepared to open, he added.
“We’re going to do everything we can to continue to run the program for as long as we need to while we’re operating online,” Dupre said. “And we’re going to try and stand up more schools, but we can only do so much at a time.”
The problem has delayed the centers from opening. They were supposed to start Aug.19 for elementary and Aug. 24 for secondary. The new dates haven’t been announced.
The district is working round-the-clock to pull new learning staff from a variety of pools, including looking at any qualified youth and education professional looking for work.
The district is also collaborating with various organizations like Boys and Girls Club, churches and even HOAs with available space to accommodate students.
Anything to help parents, teachers and students know that FBISD is working to support their safety, needs and interests. Dupre mentioned districts across the state are seeing a decrease in enrollment based on his conversations with other Texas school superintendents.
“We are all seeing and expecting to see a dip in enrollment. We expect that we’re going to lose some students this year to other learning opportunities—whether it be private school, whether it be charter, whether it be homeschool due to the pandemic,” Dupre said.
Learning Center Locations for Grades PreK-5 by Feeder Pattern
- Austin HS Feeder – Walker Station Elementary
- Bush HS Feeder – Patterson Elementary
- Clements HS Feeder – Settlers Way Elementary
- Dulles HS Feeder – Dulles Elementary
- Elkins HS Feeder – Sullivan Elementary
- Hightower HS Feeder – Palmer Elementary
- Kempner HS Feeder – Drabek Elementary
- Marshall HS Feeder – Armstrong Elementary
- Ridge Point HS Feeder – Sienna Crossing Elementary
- Travis HS Feeder – Pecan Grove Elementary
- Willowridge HS Feeder – Blue Ridge Elementary
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