FISD residents give input on proposed new zones

Parents and students—some wearing T-shirts and carrying signs—packed the Frisco ISD Administration building board of trustees chambers Nov. 10 to give their input on the rezoning process to accommodate new schools opening in August 2015.

The new zone for Reedy High School and adjustments to other high school zones needed as a result generated the most comments from parents and students. The district's demographer team released three more possible high school zoning scenarios at the meeting, but none without major concerns.

The primary concern from parents and students: Having one-time assignments for high school students, which could mean students in the same family may attend different high schools.

About a total of 15 speakers made comments to the school board about the high school zones—some not wanting to leave Wakeland High School and others wanting to be in the Reedy zone because of their neighborhood's proximity to the new high school.

The conclusion the board of trustees came to after the public hearings ended after 11 p.m. is that there is not a single solution that will keep everyone happy. The board discussed, but did not set, a date for another rezoning workshop and did not say whether they would make a definite decision on the zoning at the Dec. 8 meeting as originally scheduled.

Trustee John Classe said that with FISD being forced to open four high schools in four consecutive years, the temporary or one-time assignments to high schools is basically unavoidable.

"It is going to be impossible to do something that is not construed as temporary in some form or fashion," he said. "To fit kids in classrooms, [temporary rezoning is] going to happen."

Trustee Byran Dodson said any rezoning decision is "tough."

"I don't like any of the options, but I know we have to pick one of them," he said.

Superintendent Jeremy Lyon said the demographer team is trying to stay on target with the ideal zones once the district is at build-out.

"They want to leave in their wake zones that hold, not zones that are chaotic and require us to do something really [drastic] later on down the road," Lyon said.

Lyon and the trustees also made it clear that allowing Wakeland to go to 6A size is not an option in keeping with the district's small schools model.

While portable classrooms were mentioned as a possible alternative to moving students in both middle and high schools, Lyon reminded the audience and the trustees that portables come at a cost of about $100,000 each—which is taken out of the district's general fund.

"[Using portables] doesn't add up for those that know school business or for standards of our community," Lyon said. "6A is not within the context of this conversation."

The proposed Norris Elementary School zone, affecting Ashley and Mooneyham elementary schools, also generated some comments from parents. The major concerns are students not wanting to be moved from Mooneyham, parents not wanting to have neighborhoods split up, and transportation issues.

Of the students being moved out of Mooneyham, 29 of 160 students would not be eligible for busing. Students would be required to walk through tunnels to get to Norris, and parents were not satisfied with the district's promise of crossing guards and cleaned-up tunnels, which officials said would happen in cooperation with the city of Frisco.

See the three alternate high school proposals presented Nov. 10 here.

A sampling of excerpts from parent and student comments follows:

Resident from the Marina Vista neighborhood: "We knew this was going to happen. In our subdivision we've gone through at least six different elementary schools, four different middle schools and this would be our second high school since our subdivision opened Our 53 students—they shouldn't move. They should leave them where they are with Wakeland or in five to six years move them—go ahead and get your feeder patterns changed"

Student from The Trails neighborhood: "Rezoning will affect many families and friendships for longer than necessary because it only temporarily rezones The Trails and Meadow Creek. Many families and friendships such as mine will be split up because of the proposed changes. For example my older brother attends Wakeland High School and will continue to as he is in 10th grade. My younger brother who is in sixth grade at Cobb Middle School will eventually attend Wakeland. I however, under this proposal, am the exception because I will have to attend Reedy High School. This would not be so bad except that the entire time I attend Reedy High School one of my brothers will attend Wakeland High School. This will make transportation for extracurricular activities a nightmare for my parents. Additionally, I will never get to participate in any extracurricular activities with either of my brothers."

Resident of The Trails neighborhood: "Things that look great on paper do not always transfer when real people are involved. I think my personal story with my family encapsulates what is wrong with this proposal. I have 10th graders at Wakeland High School. I have an eighth grader at Cobb Middle School and a sixth grader at Cobb Middle School. This proposal takes my middle son and tears him away from his family and his community and sends him to Reedy High School for four years. This causes our family to have two students at two separate high schools for four continuous years. Current FISD precedent states that two year split when permanent zoning solutions are used is the norm, because you grandfather in juniors and seniors. This proposal is called temporary but it's not. It's permanent and it's for forever for my family and many more."

Representative of the West Frisco Homeowners Association: "Over the last several months I've heard from hundreds of homeowners and what they have said resoundingly is they do not want one-time assignments. They think it's bad conceptually, they don't like the idea of splitting families apart. It has a dramatic impact on homes I've had real estate agents approach me and say 'How are we going to sell homes here?' The impact could be very significant. It's not uncommon for families to have more than one kid in high school. When they ask the question 'where are my kids going to go to high school?' how are they going to respond."

Resident lobbying for Park Place and Village Lakes to be zones to Reedy: "Our first suggestion, rather than looking at Reedy as a vacuum by itself and approaching it from the west to the east, consider Reedy High School and all of west Frisco and particularly consider the next two high schools that will be opened up over the next few years and what you see is the north/south boundaries that are being created make a whole lot more sense in terms of permanent assignments, non-temporary assignments and zoning today and zoning for the longterm."

The full video of the Nov. 10 board meeting can be found here.
By Krista Wadsworth
Krista Wadsworth is the managing editor for Community Impact Newspaper’s DFW editions. After serving as a reporter and then managing editor for a daily newspaper in Northeast Texas, she moved to the DFW area and joined CI as an editor for the Frisco edition, which she helped to launch. Krista was named the DFW managing editor in 2015 and oversees the editorial content for the Frisco, Plano, McKinney, Grapevine|Colleyville|Southlake and Lewisville|Flower Mound|Highland Village editions.


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