As Eanes ISD continues planning for the 2021-22 school year, Superintendent Tom Leonard said he is projecting a fall semester unlike what students have experienced since the pandemic’s onslaught.
Trustees met March 30 to overview early enrollment and class size projections ahead of the new school year. During that meeting, Leonard said, barring any changes or state orders, district leaders do not anticipate the continuation of widespread virtual classes next year.
In light of vaccine rollouts, Leonard said quarantines, COVID-19 case dashboards and mask mandates may soon be a thing of the past—still, this statement does not represent an official decision.
“I am looking forward to a school year that is back to normal,” Leonard said.
Additionally, EISD is anticipating a rebound from the previous dips in enrollment caused by the coronavirus pandemic, particularly at the lower school level. However, current numbers have not yet reflected this projection.
Preliminary enrollment numbers reflect a total of 3,174 students at the kindergarten through fifth-grade level, 1,940 students in grades six through eight and 2,854 students at Westlake High School.
Other than Westlake High School, EISD campuses are currently reflecting a decrease in enrollment, and Leonard said the district is down roughly 200 kids.
Still, Leonard said these projections are extremely fluid. Kindergarten registration is ongoing, and EISD is anticipating enrollment numbers, particularly at the elementary school level, to increase heading into the spring.
Consequently, current class size projections are subject to change.
The district aims to keep kindergarten through fifth-grade class sizes around 22 students, and as of right now the average size at each campus remains under that threshold, according to Leonard.
“If you’re a parent looking at a particular class, I would ask you to just hang in there. Right now you may be looking at a class that’s very, very small, and it may change to be bigger,” Leonard said, adding that the opposite case may also occur.
EISD also intends to achieve a reduction in 20 full-time or equivalent staff members in order to supplement budget restrictions—an action that will also impact class sizes.
This may occur through a staff reduction at Hill Country and West Ridge middle schools and a reduction of seven full-time or equivalent staff at Westlake High School. EISD also intends to achieve a majority of this reduction through natural attrition, according to district information.
Notably, the district has factored in several contingency staff positions, which can be utilized in the event of a large class size, Leonard said.
Trustees will review projections on several more occasions, with the next discussion scheduled for April.