Administrators for the Robstown Independent School District have proposed closing the district's Parent Involvement Center, although some school board members expressed opposition to the proposal at last week's school board meeting.
Administrators said closing the building would allow the school district to save about $17,000 a year in electric costs by not occupying the 9,600-square-foot building. In addition, they said every campus in the school district has its own parent involvement room, complete with kitchens, sofas and other amenities.
"In essence we have an empty building," said superintendent Roberto Garcia, adding the school district could save tens of thousands of dollars a year by closing the building at 508 Fifth St. that's very near Seale Junior High School.
"The building is not being used to its effectiveness," added business manager Jodi Schroedter.
Board member Richard Gonzalez said closing the building would send the wrong signal to parents and the parents of potential students.
"Here we are asking the parents to get involved, but here we are closing a building," Gonzalez said. "The idea is let's get the parents involved and they have their own place and participate."
Schroedter said parents and students can meet at any RISD campus.
"Every campus has its own (parent involvement) room," said assistant superintendent Diana Silvas. "The parent center was for district liaisons. The services are not going to be curtailed on any campus."
For example, parent coordinator Ruben Sanchez, who used to be housed at the parent center, now works out of Ortiz Intermediate School where there were some vacant rooms.
Gonzalez asked what the school district would do with the building if it were closed. Instead of boarding it up, Gonzalez suggested bringing counselors and activities back to the parent center.
"I guess I just don't believe in shutting it down," Gonzalez said. "It's like you're shutting the program down to me."
The building was bought and paid for with federal money. Garcia said if the school district sold the building, then the proceeds could be channeled into other federal programs.
He said the administrators did not want to cut services, but consolidate properties.
"We are not eliminating any services at all. We are basically consolidating services," Garcia said after the meeting. "This change does not by any means mean we are trying to eliminate parent involvement in RISD. We feel that this is and will continue to be an integral part of our school system."
Board member Eva Orona said that people would get used to the changes.
"We have the room throughout our district that is not being used properly," added school board vice president Victor Orona.
School board member Roberto Tapia also expressed opposition to the proposal, saying local parents have become accustomed to having the parent involvement building in the community.
"It's a bad public relations move," Tapia said after the meeting. "It can be sustained with federal money."
The school board took no action on the proposal to close the Parent Involvement Center, although it may come up for a vote at next month's meeting.