The Austin Independent School District is targeting a new ally in the battle to boost student enrollment at some South Austin schools: real estate agents. The district opened the doors of three neighborhood schools to give real estate agents a better look at what's going on in the classrooms.
At Crockett High School, about a dozen real estate agents gathered for student-led tours across the 40-acre campus.
“There’s so many more opportunities here at Crockett," said Cassie Cook, a sophomore who chose Crockett after attending multiple high schools her freshman year. "We have a new entrepreneurship class," says Corey Elmore, a senior. "We do offer classes some schools don't have— we have cosmetology. We're getting a new PAC (Performing Arts Center)."
It was the third school tour of the day. Realtors also toured a neighborhood elementary and middle school. The tour is one way the school district and the Austin Board of Realtors are trying to become better partners — and remove some perceptions about these schools. Debbie Barrera with Realty Austin says there were a lot of negative perceptions about some of the schools in the area.
“That there was fights in a lot of the high schools, a lot of violence and negativity. And we don’t see a lot of that," Barrera says.
Her coworker, Deanna Garza, says the tour helped change her perception, too. “My perception was not clear on school and education. It was about general retail shops around here, the type of people in the community.” Garza says it helps to know about the specific programs each campus offers.
"Austin is getting a lot of new people, and a lot of these people are clueless on where to send their kids," Garza says. "They have these ideas, and it's nice to know if their kid has a specialty, or focus, like fine arts, we can now steer them toward South Austin."
For the third year in a row, Austin ISD has lost students. In the last year, they lost 1,100 students, bringing the total to date to 83,688. School board members hope that if realtors know more about the schools, they can help bring families back to the district.