Several public school districts in North Texas are experiencing a decrease in student enrollment, forcing officials to consider ways to cope with shrinking state funding allotments.
Last week, Irving ISD held a meeting with parents to discuss the drop in enrollment over the past decade, which has resulted in approximately 5,000 fewer students and $25 million less in the budget.
In light of the situation, Magda Hernandez, superintendent at Irving ISD, told parents that the district’s attendance boundaries would be shifted and that Britain and Elliott Elementary Schools — two of its 37 campuses — might be forced to close next school term.
“I wish that we could sit back and not have to do anything,” Hernandez said, according to CBS News Texas. “That’s what I wish. That’s what our board wished we could do, but we are not in that position right now.”
Several district parents voiced their frustration with the plan, especially with regard to how their children might be affected.
“We have the best teachers,” explained one parent, Patricia Medellin, per CBS News Texas. “We have the best principal. The performance is really high. We’re doing really well, why break a good community?”
According to Texas Education Agency accountability reports, 33% of Irving ISD students scored at grade level on their STAAR tests during the 2021-2022 school year. Dallas ISD, another district experiencing enrollment issues due in part to its lackluster student achievement outcomes, saw only 41% of its students hit the at-grade-level mark that school year. However, 94.7% of Irving ISD’s senior class graduated within four years, whereas only 81.1% of Dallas ISD seniors did.
While this phenomenon can be partly attributed to more parents choosing alternative educational options, such as charter and private schools, numerous factors are at play on the national and regional levels. For instance, demographic shifts caused by falling birth rates in the United States and higher housing and borrowing costs driving young families out of certain attendance zones are considerable factors.
“Looking at the state, it is not unique to Irving ISD,” Hernandez said, per CBS News Texas. “I hope that you have been listening to the news, watching the news to see what is happening in DFW. Not just DFW, but all over the state.”
The Irving ISD school board will convene next month to decide what to do about the situation.