Enrollment at Westlake High School reaches record high

Eanes ISD officials evaluated enrollment numbers during a July 21 board meeting. (Courtesy Eanes ISD)
Eanes ISD officials evaluated enrollment numbers during a July 21 board meeting. (Courtesy Eanes ISD)

Eanes ISD officials evaluated enrollment numbers during a July 21 board meeting. (Courtesy Eanes ISD)

Enrollment at Westlake High School has topped 2,900 students for the first time in Eanes ISD’s history, according to Superintendent Tom Leonard. Spikes have also occurred at the elementary school level, leading district officials to consider contingency teaching positions.

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, EISD was anticipating an overall decline in enrollment. However, that data has significantly changed since March, per updated numbers shared during a July 21 meeting.

Several board members and a number of parents have expressed concern regarding class sizes, particularly at the elementary schools. EISD has 36 elementary class sections above the recommended 22-1 student-teacher ratio, according to Deputy Superintendent Jeff Arnett.

Two fourth-grade class sections at Forest Trail Elementary School have reached 27 students—an issue that has drawn criticism from parents in the district. Third-grade sections at Barton Creek Elementary School sit at 25 students.

“This can’t be beneficial for kids or teachers, especially for remote learning,” parent Satiya Ali said. “Class sizes of 25 [students] will be disastrous.”

The increase could, in part, be attributed to new families moving into the district, as well as an increase in families leaving private schools as a result of the financial implications of the health crisis, Leonard said.

EISD also ramped up marketing for out-of-district transfer students and has since accepted 618 transfers districtwide for the 2020-21 school year, which will bring in a total of $5.3 million in funding, Arnett said.

Each out-of-district transfer brings in $8,602 in funding per student and effectively lowers the district’s recapture payments by that amount, according to district information.

Texas’ recapture system requires districts with a cost per student higher than $6,030 to contribute payments based on their taxable value, according to the Texas Education Agency.

Arnett clarified the district never accepts transfer students at the expense of class sizes, and EISD principals work alongside administrators to determine where classroom capacity lies.

“Because we’ve added so many more transfers, and that has helped us to add to our budget, I’m hopeful that we can add additional [full-time or equivalent teachers],” trustee Heather Sheffield said.

Though the board took no official action, trustees provided Leonard with the guidance to bring in an additional five contingency teaching positions.
By Amy Rae Dadamo
Amy Rae Dadamo is the reporter for Lake Travis-Westlake, where her work focuses on city government and education. Originally from New Jersey, Amy Rae relocated to Austin after graduating from Ramapo College of New Jersey in May 2019.


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