Here are some talking points to make when you advocate specifically for Oak Springs Elementary at the meeting tomorrow night at Burger, through written comments at these meetings or through online comments at the Facility Master Plan website found on the AISD homepage: www.austinisd.org .
All online comments must be posted by January 17, 2011 (next Monday).
1. Oak Springs changed from one of the lowest performing AISD schools to achieving an EXEMPLARY rating by the state of Texas in the spring of 2010.
2. The Oak Springs families face a variety of unique challenges including
a. 77% of the families are at or below poverty level
b. 98% of the children are in the free lunch program
c. Most are single parent homes or have a grandparent raising the children
d. Most do not have a computer or an email address making quick organization much more of a challenge and limiting their voice and access to information
3. An estimated 80% of the Oak Springs families do not own a car
Not having a family car presents a variety of challenges:
a. Young children have to walk to and from school each day.
b. If Oak Springs families are sent to Blackshear Elementary they will have to walk 1.5 miles to and from school, across the Light Rail tracks and through neighborhoods that Austin Police Dept have identified as having high gang activity, drug dealing and prostitution.
c. AISD does not provide buses inside a 2 mile radius, but if AISD makes an exception for the Oak Springs children, there will be the added cost to AISD of buses for 300+ children every morning and afternoon.
d. The parents and children will have the added challenge of transportation when they try to participate in after school programs (including tutoring), evening programs for families, Saturday school and Saturday events.
e. Poor families cannot afford to take the city bus.
4. Children need stability, especially children in low income homes. Studies show that children in low income homes succeed best in smaller classrooms and smaller environments.
5. Oak Springs Elementary has historical significance to East Austin . Two schools have already been closed in this part of town. These closures gave a very negative message to the neighborhood, reducing neighborhood and community involvement in schools.
6. The current location of Oak Springs Elementary in relationship to the residents of the Oak Spring neighborhood gives parents and school staff safe access to each other. Parents and teachers regularly walk across the street to meet with each other at the school and in homes. All the faculty and staff at Oak Springs are committed to this neighborhood and the particular needs of this community. Parent involvement is the highest it’s been in years. This two way relationship has an important role in the success of Oak Springs Elementary.
Please forward this email to your community group and other friends of Oak Springs Elementary.