Corey Ryan, executive director of communications and community relations, said the goal in building the district’s 11th middle school on Pearson Ranch Road is to relieve overcrowding at Walsh and Cedar Valley middle schools.
Ryan said district representatives would seek community input in October through public hearings, focus groups and electronic surveys, and bring a proposal for the school’s attendance zone before the board of trustees in November.
Several trustees said board elections on Nov. 8 could affect the outcome of a vote on the proposed attendance zone.
Trustee Terri Romere said she worried elections would taint the often contentious process of shifting school boundaries and asked staffers to start the process immediately.
“I think six months is too long,” she said. “You have the data. You have the information.”
Board President Paul Tisch said he agreed, and he suggested using the board’s May 3 workshop to expedite the process.
Trustee Diane Cox said aside from the interference of the election, a six-month process would be destructive to the community.
“The longer it gets drawn out, the more pitted the families get,” she said. “There’s a way to get input without dragging it so far down the road.”
Trustee Charles Chadwell, whose seat is one of three up for election in November, encouraged officials to move as quickly as they could on the proposal, but he asked them to ensure the district collected sufficient input from the community and said he would work with whatever timeline he was given.
“This is one of the most contentious things a board does, is boundaries,” Chadwell said. “I don’t think there’s an easy time to do it.”
Board members Pauline Law and Nikki Gonzales will also be up for election in November.
Law said she worried if the district speeds up the process, community members will think the board is “rubber stamping” the district staff’s recommendation rather than incorporating residents’ input.
RRISD Chief Financial Officer Randy Staats said regardless of the outcome of the election, the sitting board members would vote on the attendance zone for Middle School No.11 because the district would not have canvassed elections results in time for the November board meeting.
School name unofficially decided
The board tentatively agreed to name the new facility Pearson Ranch Middle School.
Typically, the board accepts nominations for a new school name, then forms a committee to develop a name recommendation.
But when RRISD purchased the 163-acre property on Pearson Ranch, which includes Elsa England Elementary School, from Claretta England, Joe Mason England, Dale Ray England and Joe England in 2009, the purchasing agreement stated, "Any middle school constructed on the property shall include the name Pearson Ranch."
Tisch asked district officials to bring the name to the board for a vote at its May meeting.
“We’re happy with the name Pearson Ranch for Middle School No. 11,” he said.
The property is bounded by Avery Ranch Boulevard to the North, Pearson Place development to the West, RM 620 to the South and Brushy Creek MUD to the East in Williamson County.