The North Forest Independent School District in northeast Houston is a disaster, both academically and financially. Last year, five of its 11 schools were rated Academically Unacceptable by the state; today, the district is on the verge of bankruptcy.

As documented by the Houston Chronicle, student enrollment has decreased 40 percent in the past decade and continues to plummet. The district faces a $17.6 million shortfall over the next two years, while North Forest’s school board voted last Friday to fire 45 employees to narrow that shortfall, the board has thrice refused to merge campuses – specifically, two high schools less than half full. If the school district cannot show rapid improvement both financially and academically, the Texas Education Agency will have to step in and close down the school district.

In the meantime, there is hope for many students and parents trapped in a North Forest school. Parents of students attending Elmore Middle School, Forest Brook High School, Hilliard Elementary School, Kirby Middle School, Oak Village Middle School, Shadydale Elementary School, Smiley High School, or Tidwell Elementary School can request a transfer to another school district or a charter school under the Public Education Grant (PEG) program.

Just because a bureaucracy can’t get its act together doesn’t mean the students should be forced to suffer the consequences. PEG grants may be the only short-term option for North Forest parents concerned about the quality of their children’s education.

– Brooke Terry