Educators and former students from Fowler Elementary School reacted last week to news the small campus may be closed next school year.
The school, which currently serves about 362 students, would be closed as part of new proposed attendance zones resulting from plans to open the Killeen Independent School District’s 33rd elementary school.
“I was surprised when they told us,” said Lillian Billie, who has been teaching at Fowler since 1975. “We are like a family, and it would be sad to see that end.”
Billie described the community of educators and parents surrounding the school as a close-knit group, who each year invite former staff and alumni back for a Thanksgiving luncheon.
“We all love the children. We really care and that brings us all together,” Billie said. “This school really means a lot to the community.”
Lauren Light, a former Fowler student who now lives in Nacogdoches, said she was surprised by the news.
“I was shocked,” said Light, whose handprints still adorn one of the school’s walls from when she attended Fowler as a child. “They didn’t just teach me the basics of how to learn, they taught me how to be a person.”
The campus, which opened in 1956, is named for Dr. Joseph Anthony Fowler, a local doctor and active community member. He served on the Killeen ISD board of trustees from 1946 to 1949. He also was the sideline physician for the Killeen High School football team.
Fowler’s son, Dr. Andy Fowler, said he also heard the school might close.
“Fowler Elementary School has a rich history of serving this community,” Fowler said. “We think (the school’s) contribution to families in the area is important.”
Under the proposed plan, the school’s attendance zone would be divided among three other elementary schools: East Ward, West Ward and Clifton Park.
Killeen ISD Superintendent Robert Muller said the school’s staff would be moved to the new elementary school if Fowler closes.
The district’s board has not yet approved the proposals. The district plans to hold public meetings before taking a final vote.
With the prospect of closing the school a real possibility, some Fowler staff plan to ask board members to consider carrying on Fowler’s legacy.
A draft of a letter sent to the Herald by Fowler educators asks the trustees to consider naming the district’s new 33rd elementary school after Fowler.
“As a staff, we were saddened by the announcement of the closure of the littlest school in the district because we have such a big heart when it comes to our students,” the letter read. “We can carry on this Fowler tradition at another building as long as we have the Fowler name. It is with great pride that we would like for you to consider naming elementary school number (33), Dr. Joseph A. Fowler Elementary School.”
Speaking earlier this week, Andy Fowler echoed similar sentiments.
“If it does have to close, and there is another school that hasn’t been given a name yet, I hope they would consider it” he said. “The school has a rich history and legacy in the community, and I hope that can be continued.”