Lake Travis, Eanes ISDs look at redistricting, enrollment projections

Both Lake Travis ISD and Eanes ISD are dealing with changes in population in their districts. The rise of population in Western Travis County has led to each district looking to the future to decide the best course of action to take.

LTISD is looking to change school attendance zones for both elementary and middle schools while EISD is taking into account student enrollment changes in regards to a master plan.

LTISD takes on redistricting

In 2013 the LTISD School Attendance Zone Advisory Committee began developing school attendance zones for the elementary schools and middle schools that would be both rational and sustainable.

Made up of parents, community members, teachers, principals and board of trustee members, the committee said its goal was to make a recommendation for new borders that would not need to be redrawn as additional schools are brought online, and to avoid dividing communities whenever possible.

The proposed boundaries would take effect in the Fall 2014–15 school year and are scheduled to be voted on at the LTISD board of trustees meeting June 18.

"The committee's goals were to meet a number of board-designed parameters," LTISD Deputy Superintendent Chris Allen said. "The addition of Elementary School No. 6 is what really started the conversation, and projected growth in the western part of the county drove that as well."

The changes the committee recommended to the board for elementary school boundaries affect every school except Lake Pointe Elementary School.

The largest proposed change for elementary schools is the addition of Elementary School No. 6. The newest zone proposal takes the northwestern section of what is currently Bee Cave Elementary and also incorporates the boundary of Serene Hills Elementary below Hwy. 71.

"At the end of the day, it's about the effective use of building resources to provide service to students, while being responsible with taxpayer dollars," Allen said. "You want to have your buildings be relatively balanced in attendance. The recommendations are trying to make it so that kids have a similar experience from one school to the next [and] so that we can provide the highest quality experience no matter what school students attend. Our committee did diligent and detailed work studying the data while expressing the needs of the community. The committee did great work."

The redistricting proposal also shifts the landscape of the district's two middle schools. The proposal moves the Hudson Bend Middle School zone east, absorbing a small part of Lake Travis Middle School's eastern area, and gives Lake Travis the western chunk of the Hudson Bend district.

Allen said the shift provides a more stable balance to the middle schools for the next few years with the anticipation that the western part of the district will see an increase in residents.

The change also only splits Serene Hills Elementary, allowing more students to follow their peers from elementary school to middle school, he said.

Eanes looks at enrollment

In 2012, EISD began a community-based master planning initiative to look at the district's facilities and how they coincided with the district's vision, goals and the quality of the community for the future, EISD Superintendent Nola Wellman said.

"The board charged me last summer, saying that we really need to get serious about a facilities master plan," she said. "There are concerns about [the age of the buildings] and it's hard to make decisions without a plan."

Wellman said the 13 subcommittees—one for every school—and overall committee are still gathering information and are now seeking public input on how to make the master plan work for the district and for the community.

"We are trying to get a lot of different feedback and a lot of different thoughts," said Stephen Coulston, vice president of Broaddus & Associates, the company assisting EISD with the facilities master plan. "We have been in the process of analysis and information-gathering and that is now starting to get overlaid with this whole backdrop of identifying goals and setting standards. We are trying to set that benchmark to which we can hold ourselves."

Wellman said that the school district enrollment is changing at about 1 percent annually. Looking at three years, six years and 10 years into the future, the trend needs to be taken into consideration for the master plan, she said.

"Our schools are part of a larger community," Wellman said. "We have to look at what is happening in the community to get an idea of what will happen in the schools."

Wellman said population is increasing slowly and that even though household numbers are rising, they are doing so slower than the population, which suggests there are more family households and more children.

To determine enrollment estimates, there are four major factors the district considers, Wellman said.

The district looks at kindergarten enrollment, how many students are graduating, whether there are any new residential developments and inter-district transfers, she said.

Wellman said that the demographics indicate slow growth and that enrollment will increase, leading to some capacity issues in schools. Capacity is an issue that will be looked at closely as the master plan development continues, she said.

A fourth master plan community forum is scheduled for 4–6 p.m. June 20 at the Valley View Elementary School cafeteria.