The HISD board of trustees on Jan. 17 approved a map that sends hundreds of students from Howard Norman Elementary School and Veterans Hill Elementary School to Benjamin “Doc” Kerley Elementary School.
Kerley Elementary, a $26.5 million school that broke ground in February, is HISD’s seventh elementary school campus.
“Our challenge as a district is to how to best populate that new campus," said Henry Gideon, assistant superintendent of operations for HISD.
The approval from the HISD board of trustees wraps up a monthslong process for the district that included demographer reports, committee work and a series of public meetings held with families across the district.
Gideon told board members the map reflects consideration for the district’s tremendous growth and was drawn to mitigate need for additional redrawing years from now.
"We’re looking to get as far as we can down that 10-year timeline before we see some issues," Gideon said.
Regardless, attendance forecasts show Hutto Elementary School, Kerley Elementary and Ray Elementary School all exceeding their current student capacities in the next decade.
A provision for redrawing the district’s middle school attendance zones was ultimately pulled from the recommendation given to trustees Jan. 17, though Gideon admitted a third middle school is likely on its way.
Once work begins on that school, HISD will need to go through the attendance zone amendment process for the district’s middle school students.
Families in the shifting attendance zones are now able to apply with the school district to take advantage of a grandfathering effect for their children. This allows some fifth-grade risers, or students entering the fifth grade, to stay in their same school in the 2019-2020 school year. The grandfathering may apply to siblings of rising fifth-grade students as well.
State law prohibits the district from sending school buses across attendance zone lines, according to Gideon. Therefore, parents who utilize this grandfathering clause will be required to provide for the transportation of their children to school.