Since March, Leander ISD’s board of trustees has discussed proposed rezoning options and how to accommodate families throughout the district when Tom Glenn High School opens in fall 2016.
The district’s growing student community means the board is charged with rezoning attendance boundaries to efficiently populate its high schools. Trustees could make a final decision
Leander ISD, which includes Travis and Williamson counties, has increased its enrollment by more than 127 percent since 2002, making it one of the fastest-growing districts in Central Texas, according to a progress report released April 27 by the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce. In 2013-14, LISD had 35,355 students, according to the report, which includes information from 2014.
Sixteen potential rezoning options were presented to the board before trustees reached a consensus April 16 about which option to bring forward to the community for feedback at May public meetings. At the board’s April 16 meeting, LISD administrators recommended Scenario N to present to the public for additional input, and trustees engaged in a lengthy discussion.
At that meeting, Jeremy Trimble, executive director of support services, said more than 200 residents provided feedback about the potential rezoning options on LISD’s website, and input about Scenario N specifically could be shared with the board in June. Superintendent Bret Champion said April 16 that Scenario N is a “starting point” for conversation within the district.
“There was [a] general consensus [among the trustees] that Scenario N seemed to best meet the needs of the district at this point,” said Veronica Sopher, assistant superintendent of community and governmental relations. “This is the scenario we are putting forth into the community to have some public forums [to] give us some feedback on.”
Scenario N is designed to relieve schools in the northern part of the district, such as Rouse and Leander high schools, and affects 31 neighborhood codes, Sopher said. However, this potential option is only a proposal and is likely to be revised after the board takes into account feedback from public meetings, she said. On April 16, Trimble said some possible changes to the current zoning include:
• Some students currently zoned for LHS would move to Cedar Park High School.
• Some students currently zoned for RHS would move to Vista Ridge High School.
• Students in Mason Hills would remain in their current zoning and attend LHS.
• Students in neighborhoods such as South San Gabriel Ranches, Escalera Ranch and Reagan Overlook would move from RHS to TGHS.
• Students in neighborhood code 3100, which includes Quarry Oaks and Blue Oak Estates, would move from LHS to CPHS.
• Students who reside at The Lodge at Lakeline Village Cypress Creek Townhomes would move from VRHS to CPHS.
The only high school students that would be unaffected by Scenario N are those attending Vandegrift High School, according to the proposed map.
Community input for neighborhood code 2075, which includes subdivisions west of Lakeline Boulevard and north of Buttercup Creek Boulevard, is split between wanting their children to attend CPHS and VRHS, Trimble said April 16. Public meetings will guide administration on a best solution, he said.
“[Scenario N] has [a] good framework to go out to the public and get additional feedback,” Trimble said, adding that the needs of families in Escalera Ranch still need to be addressed with this scenario. TGHS is planned to open with ninth and 10th grades only for 2016-17 and integrates 11th graders into the high school in 2017-18, according to LISD documents. By 2018-19, TGHS will have students in ninth through 12th grades. This system, Sopher said, is not uncommon and is efficient because it allows the school to educate more students per staff person.
New attendance rezoning strategy
As the district continues to grow, a more simplified process for attendance rezoning is necessary, Sopher said, and a different process was put in place for TGHS.
“Just because there is a new process doesn’t mean that the board and the administration didn’t recognize that this is still a very sensitive topic for our community,” Sopher said. “We over-communicate the opportunities for families to provide their feedback.”
LISD began using the new process for attendance rezoning during the planning for Camacho Elementary School, one in which the decision-making burden is placed on district administration instead of a district attendance zoning committee, Sopher said.
“As we’ve grown, we’ve outgrown that process,” Sopher said. “We modeled our program after some very successful programs in other districts. … By us taking this process on, it really puts the [responsibility] on us to do some of that hard decision-making.”