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How school district boundaries create inequality

How school district boundaries create inequality

SAN ANTONIO - News 4 continues its yearlong commitment to explore inequality, San Antonio's Silent Crisis. The sad reality is that, in many ways, your destiny is defined by your zip code - and that's partly because of how our school district lines are drawn.

One student can't read the board - he needs glasses. Another can't concentrate in class - she's going hungry.

"We're looking for what needs they have," says Shelly Bosse from Communities in Schools.

The nonprofit helps fill the gap.

"Basic needs are first," Bosse explains. "And if someone's not getting nutrition, housing, clothing, medical care - they're not going to be able to go up to that next level of learning."

Her team works at schools where kids are at risk of dropping out.

"Mostly the ones on the south side, south and west side," Bosse says.

Research shows those inner city schools are filled with economically disadvantaged kids. To learn why, we got a history lesson from Dr. Christine Drennon at Trinity University.

"Now today, we talk about school districts almost like God made them, God put them on the landscape and now we live in them. But we made them," Dr. Drennon says.

Bexar County originally had 66 school districts. In the 1950s, they started consolidating.

"This was very much a financial transaction," Dr. Drennon says.

Three power districts emerged: Northside, North East and San Antonio Independent School Districts.

"Here's the interesting thing. You see these little ones here. Some of the small ones," Dr. Drennon says while pointing to the consolidated map. "They also wanted to part of that movement. So here's Edgewood. [Larger districts] said, no we're not interested in consolidating with you."

She says real estate is so tied to school district boundaries, we feel the fragmentation today.

"We definitely have dense pockets of poverty," Bosse says back at Communities in Schools.

She says that's why school supply drives like Stuff The Bus and one-on-one mentorship programs are so vital.

"If someone is living in poverty or if they've experienced trauma, it's going to affect their behavior, their academics and their attendance," Bosse says.

By EMILY BAUCUM

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