St. Rep. Turner Leads Special Meeting On Future Of HISD's Booker T. Washington High

A special meeting will be held this evening to bring attention to the problems facing a historic high school in Houston.  Booker T. Washington has recently seen its academic ranking downgraded, enrollment is off, and a number of vocational programs have closed.  As David Pitman reports, advocates for the school fear it may not have much of a future if things continue as they are.

Booker T. Washington's history goes back to the 1890's.  It was Houston's first high school open to black students.  The campus has been at its current location in The Heights since 1959.  And last week, the state recognized it with a historical marker.  But HISD's budget troubles have hit Booker T. especially hard, according to Democratic State Representative Sylvester Turner.

"Their Home Economics program, their Cosmetology program, their Auto mechanics program are now gone.  Their stellar band has been reduced from over 80 members in the band to about 10."

On top of that, Booker T.'s academic rating slipped this year from "acceptable" to "unacceptable." Representative Turner says HISD Superintendent Terry Grier acknowledges the building needs to be replaced.  But Turner says Grier told him there was no money set aside for that in the most recent bond election. 

"If you cannot put a new building there, as I indicated to the Superintendent,  then you can certainly do everything you can to make sure the school has the academic programs within this old building, so that the kids' academic, instructional, and extracurricular needs can be met."

Representative Turner will lead a special community meeting at Booker T. Washington.  It begins at 6:30 this evening at the campus on east 39th. 

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David Pitman

Local Host, Morning Edition

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