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SAISD Announces Sustainability Plan with Proposed Elementary School Mergers

SAISD Announces Sustainability Plan with Proposed Elementary School Mergers

At the San Angelo ISD Board Meeting on Monday, October 19, 2022, SAISD and the Board of Trustees received a formal recommendation by West Texas architecture firm, Parkhill, Smith & Cooper, for a phased plan to combine four of the District’s elementary schools into two schools following a facility study of the District’s 17 elementary campuses. The architecture firm and SAISD collaborated for over six months to develop a Sustainability Plan for the future of the District with consideration of aging facilities, annual operating costs, lower enrollment and balancing campus capacities across the District. 

SAISD will now begin thoughtfully exploring the recommendation for the Sustainability Plan which includes planned opportunities for community town hall forums at our schools impacted by the combinations of elementary schools. We will continue to provide updates throughout the process at a dedicated page on the District website at Click here to download a flyer in English click here and for Spanish click here.

The Sustainability Plan recommendation presented by the architecture firm includes: 

Phase 1 (Combine 4 elementary campuses into 2, bringing total SAISD Elementary Schools to 15.)

  1. Combine San Jacinto Elementary with Reagan Elementary beginning in the 2023-2024 school year, and repurpose San Jacinto Elementary facility as SAISD’s flagship campus for pre-kindergarten students and functional needs students.
  2. Combine Alta Loma Elementary with Fannin Elementary beginning in the 2023-2024 school year, and repurpose or shutter Alta Loma Elementary.  

Phase 2 (Combine 2 elementary campuses into 1, bringing total SAISD Elementary Schools to 14.)

  1. Combine Austin Elementary with McGill Elementary beginning in the 2024-2025 school year, and repurpose or shutter Austin Elementary.
  2. Expand McGill Elementary with renovation and new builds without a bond measure. 

The Sustainability Plan recommendation will not result in any tax increase or require a bond measure for phase 1 or 2, and is possible due to fiscally conservative practices by the District. We understand this is a topic that some members of our community care deeply about, so the process moving forward on the Sustainability Plan is intentional and thorough, and designed to allow us to hear from the varied perspectives and unique voices in our community. Service to the student has been a top focus during the process as we are committed to our mission of preparing all students to be future-ready graduates. Continue reading to learn more about the Sustainability Plan recommendation and expected benefits to our District, students, staff and community, strategic considerations by SAISD and the Board, and background and efforts. 

Sustainability Plan Summary: Background, Benefits and Considerations

Last school year, SAISD announced our three District strategic goals to guide all District work over the next few years centered on Student Engagement, Culture and Communication and Innovative Learning Spaces. The Sustainability Plan efforts directly align to support the third goal of Innovative Learning Spaces, and SAISD’s commitment to provide efficient, safe, and innovative learning spaces that promote student achievement. As we work to further develop the Sustainability Plan, service to the student is a guiding priority along with the District goals.

As part of the recommendation, the architecture firm included research around the benefits to the District, most importantly those benefits for our students and staff while also being good stewards of our public funds. The Sustainability Plan benefits, strategic considerations, and background are: 

Benefits and Cost Savings:

  • Combining schools into a larger campus of 500 to 600 students is an optimum size for instructional benefit and operational efficiency. Combination enables SAISD to:
    • provide students with more resources and improve educational environments and more support staff 
    • at this campus size, students can still have one gym, one administration team, and one cafeteria 
    • maintain smaller student learning environments within a larger campus 
    • expand professional learning groups for our teachers to mentor and collaborate with peers (i.e. peer groups like four 4th grade teachers at a campus to learn from one another rather than a smaller team of two teachers)
    • operation cost per student can be reduced by up to $2,000 per student
  • Economic Efficiency: By reducing the number of elementary school campuses, SAISD will see an estimated annual cost savings per shuttered campus of $500,000. Operation of the elementary schools is typically about $2,000,000 per year. Combining campuses would enable SAISD to reduce energy consumption and operational costs.
    • Our teams and board have practiced fiscally conservative policies and practices which have allowed SAISD to generate the expected $20mil we would need without going to taxpayers for an additional bond to complete needed renovations to combined campuses. 
  • Balance Enrollment for more Efficient Use of School Spaces: Currently, the average enrollment for SAISD elementary schools is 375 students with some operating at 50-60% capacity or less. 
  • Larger, exclusive facilities for Special Programs including Pre-Kindergarten, PAYS (Preparing Area Youth for Success), Functional Academics, Tiny Texans, etc. 
  • State-wide trends by school districts is for larger elementary schools of about 500 to 600 for optimization of learning. Peer West Texas school districts are also trending this way  including decreased enrollment sizes like Abilene ISD, Big Spring ISD, Borger ISD, Lubbock ISD,  Plainview ISD, and Snyder ISD.
    • Out of these peer districts listed, San Angelo ISD would be the only to make these effective changes without a Bond Election. 
    • Trends for Texas schools indicate academic benefits for larger campuses, up to 850 students, suggesting 850 students at a campus would be the maximum to see this benefit.  

Strategic Considerations: 

  • McGill Elementary and Fannin Elementary campuses allow for possible expansions without disruptions to classes due to factors like land availability.
  • Factors for closure/repurposing include facility condition, educational and spatial adequacy, age, capacity vs. enrollment, operational costs, campus expandability, and location of special programs. 
  • The Sustainability Plan will help SAISD retain and recruit quality staff, ensuring that our district can provide current and future staff members the opportunities and compensation to maintain high quality employees. 

Sustainability Plan Efforts and Background: 

  • Jan 2022 - SAISD issued a request for proposal for architectural firms to assess our facilities and the condition of our facilities, Parkhill was chosen after the proposal process was completed. 
    • During SAISD’s evolution of the bids submitted, Parkhill best understood our West Texas communities, had previously worked with peer districts and had experience with consolidation of campuses. 
  • During the last 6 months, Parkhill completed thorough research into our facilities including:
    • Pulling 10 years of enrollment data to see trends in our past campus enrollment to what could happen over the next 10 years
      • Most SAISD campuses trending down in enrollment
    • Infrastructure considerations including site utilities, site improvements, site Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), structural, exterior facade, exterior windows, roofing, interior construction, and interior finishes. 
  • Background into the recommendation to close or repurpose Alta Loma and Austin Elementary:
    • Alta Loma Elementary
      • $20mil to renovate the existing building 
        • In order to renovate or expand this campus, the campus would be split between a large road which is a safety issue for our students and staff. 
        • When renovation of an aging building approaches half of the cost to build a new facility, architecture firms generally recommend the new build as more fiscally responsible.
      • Current Functional Adequacy score of the building  is rated a  “C” by TEA’s standards for educational facilities. 
      • Enrollment capacity - 62% full 
      • Operations cost currently $2.1M a year, by combining this campus with another in the District will save $500,000 per year. 
      • Major issues - site drainage, drop off/pickup area, plumbing 
    • Austin Elementary
    • $22.4mil to renovate the existing building 
      • The size of the current facilities makes it difficult to meet the current needs of our students. 
      • The campus is extremely landlocked without designated dropoff/pick up areas that are not major streets and does not have potential land to expand.
    • Current Functional Adequacy score of the building space is rated a “D” by TEA’s standards for educational facilities
    • Enrollment capacity - 67% full 
    • Operations cost currently $2.7mil a year, by combining this campus with another in the District will save $550,000 per year 
    • Major issues - structural, exterior facade, plumbing 

Our Promise: 
As we work to further develop the Sustainability Plan, service to the student is our guiding priority along with the District goals and listening to those most impacted. We will continue to communicate updates to your school community, and provide opportunities for impacted students, teachers and community members to share feedback including town hall forums anticipated to begin in November 2022. 

Follow the San Angelo ISD Facebook, Twitter, and website, to stay up-to-date on San Angelo ISD. Updates specific to the Sustainability Plan will be shared at