Skip Navigation
Children’s Cabinet panel discusses rightsizing

Children's Cabinet Panel

Members of the San Antonio Independent School District Children's Cabinet participated in a panel discussion about rightsizing at its Oct. 13 meeting, the third gathering of the group of parents, educators, community members and national leaders.

Cabinet members also engaged in a group activity to provide district leaders with feedback on the rightsizing process, which began in June with a board resolution to study school building capacity for the purpose of supporting thriving schools, students, teachers and staff.

Superintendent Jaime Aquino launched the Children’s Cabinet in May to oversee the work of the Always Learning strategic management plan to ensure continuity in the common pursuit of creating the conditions for all students to thrive. Aquino wanted to ensure that SAISD student outcomes are not overlooked in policymaking decisions and the implementation of those decisions.

That includes rightsizing.

On Sept. 18, the SAISD Board of Trustees heard the initial recommendation package of schools to be closed, consolidated or relocated. Since then, the district has held 14 neighborhood meetings to receive feedback on the initial recommendation package. The district plans to hold at least eight more meetings before the board makes a final decision on Nov. 13.

During the panel discussion, Deputy Superintendent Patti Salzmann asked the participants to give their honest feedback on the rightsizing process. The panel participants included:

  • Mario Barrera, a local attorney
  • Alejandra Lopez, president of the San Antonio Alliance of Teachers and Support Personnel
  • Charity Nathaniel, principal of Sarah King Elementary
  • Virginia Parker, principal of Highland Park Elementary
  • Melinda Teplitzky, parent and grandparent of SAISD students


Parker, who had just attended the Highland Park meeting the night before, said she was glad that everyone at the meeting who wanted to speak had the chance to hold a microphone and be heard. About 200 people attended the Highland Park meeting. The school is being considered for closure.

“That was really powerful to have that neighborhood meeting at our school,” she said. “The fact that anyone who was there was given the mic who wanted it and there were people there to listen to them, that’s really important.”

Lopez applauded the district for engaging in dialogue with the community throughout the process, when other school districts in Bexar County closed schools recently without gathering community feedback. 

“Those of us who have lived in San Antonio and have witnessed this process take place in other districts can celebrate the fact that SAISD is really trying to chart a new path forward, one that has a clear start and has clear milestones where there is opportunity for feedback,” she said.

The Alliance wants to extend the timeline for the process to be at least a year long and allow members of the community who would be impacted by potential school closures, consolidations or relocations to vote on those changes. While the district has not adopted those requests, Lopez said it was still empowering to be part of the process.


Nathaniel said she appreciates that the district is committed to hearing differing perspectives at every neighborhood meeting. She noted that speakers have no time limits and that there are multiple ways for people to make their voices heard. She called the district’s approach “revolutionary.”

“I think that we promote familia because we ask everyone to come to the table,” she said.

While change is always scary, Teplitzky said that SAISD is making it easier by keeping the entire community engaged in the process, from students to families to small businesses in the area. She also applauded the district for listening to people’s ideas.

“The thing that we did right was we asked the community to come in,” she said. “We have asked them to come in and voice their opinions but also to come in with ideas on how to fix these things because it’s going to take all of us as a familia to be able to go forward.”

Barrera said he disagreed with the Alliance’s request for the community to vote on the initial recommendation package. He said that’s why people elected the trustees on the board and that the neighborhood meetings provided opportunities for people to get involved and give feedback.

“Let’s be frank here,” he said. “Whether it’s five months, whether it’s a year, no one is going to be happy with school closures.”

Parker agreed with Barrera. While she doesn’t want Highland Park to close, she said she knows rightsizing is the best decision for all students in the district so they can all have access to the same outstanding education.

“This is the right thing for this SAISD familia,” she said. “We must do this. We have to do this.”

Barrera reminded the group that many other school districts are in the same situation, facing declining enrollment. Recently, Plano and Fort Worth ISDs in North Texas announced they are also considering closing some schools.

Nathaniel said she had questions about Sarah King being a receiving school and whether there would be enough space for more students. Under the initial recommendation, Sarah King Elementary would receive students from Storm Elementary, which is proposed to close. Sarah King was renovated after the 2010 bond package passed and would be better able to accommodate more students. The projected enrollment for the school with the Storm students would be 658 in 2024.

Another question Nathaniel had was whether rightsizing would help with the enrollment decline. She asked, “Will people leave? Will we lose students to charter schools?”

Teplitzky said she wanted the district to give families a clear vision of what they would gain with rightsizing because some don’t know what they’re missing. Many families do not know what other options are available for their children until they hear about special programs, like CAST Med, from their friends.

Parker said she wondered how the district would regain the trust of some community members. She heard many families talking about a loss of trust in SAISD and knows that as a principal she has a responsibility to her community to help rebuild that trust.

“I think we need to do a lot of work on regaining trust, and principals have a huge responsibility here because our communities trust us,” she said.

Lopez echoed Parker’s sentiment about trust. She said she has an “innate trust” in the community to make the best decisions for itself, and that includes this process.

“We should have trust in our community, and the best way to demonstrate that trust is by giving them the ability to vote on what happens,” she said. “The trust has to be both ways.”

To conclude, Salzmann asked the panelists to provide a one-sentence recommendation to district leadership.

Nathaniel said: “Consider our students and their needs.”

Teplitzky said: “Walk a mile in the kids’ shoes.”

Lopez said: “Let the community decide their future.”

Parker said: “Keep the kids in mind and do what’s best for them.”

Barrera said: “Look to the future, but take into account the kids, the community and the staff.”

Copyright © {{YEAR}} San Antonio Independent School District. All rights reserved.

powered by ezTaskTitanium TM