Gulfton area charter schools face closure
06:43 PM CST on Thursday, March 8, 2007
The three campuses of the Las Americas Early Childhood Center in Southwest Houston are set to close this summer. Some former students who credit the school with saving their lives are now trying to return the favor.
Samantha Chavez works at a mortgage company by day and goes to college at night. Not bad for a girl from what she calls the “Gulfton Ghetto.”
She has her eyes set on a big future.
"I just want something like either business for international business, the medical school or law school,” said Chavez. “Anything I can give back to the community.”
She credits her success and aspirations to the Kaleidoscope Middle School, one of three charter schools housed in a Gulfton area apartment complex. All three are set to shut down.
"Thanks to them, they've saved my life I know they've saved your life,” said former Kaleidoscope student Fatemeh Esfandiyari. "They've pushed us, they always pushed us."
Now Esfandivari and others are trying to find a way to keep the doors open.
The lease the Houston Independent School District has with the massive Las Americas Apartment complex has been abruptly canceled. The school district is now considering shutting down the schools all together or moving each to different locations.
Esfandivari said that would be a mistake. Such a move would take away from what made her old middle school stand out.
"What they did with the students is what made it Kaleidoscope, it's what made it distinct,” she said. “Just the word, disperse sounds horrible. Kaliedoscope should just stay autonomous.
"We want to give kids in the Gulfton community hope and the chance and the opportunity to excel like we did."
To merge it with another school that would just lose it's identity and it's significance to the Gulfton area the former students said.
Chavez and Esfandivari went before the HISD school board Thursday in hopes of keeping the schools where they are.
But school officials said the decision has already been made. Kaleidoscope Middle School will be shut down and the students dispersed to other campuses in the area.
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