PfISD and HISD redraw attendance zones ahead of the 2019-20 school year

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Many Pflugerville ISD and Hutto ISD students will attend new schools next school year after the districts both voted to adjust attendance boundaries.

Pflugerville ISD adjusts for growth

Seeking to address PfISD’s rapid population growth, seven schools within the district will have students from new attendance boundaries for the 2019-20 academic year.

The district’s board approved the new zones Jan. 17 for Copperfield Elementary, Delco Primary and Dessau elementary schools; Dessau and Westview middle schools; and Connally and Weiss high schools.

The new boundaries will be implemented by the start of the 2019-20 school year, but students who live in an area of the district that had its attendance boundaries changed may apply in March to be grandfathered into their current school.

Transportation for grandfathered-in students will not be provided, said Kettisha Jones, PfISD assistant superintendent of elementary education. Over the summer, students will receive classroom assignments and updates on transportation changes.

The eastern portion of PfISD near SH 130 has been identified by demographer Trent Smith of Templeton Demographics as the district’s fastest-growing area.

Over the next five years, PfISD’s student population is projected to grow by nearly 3,000 students, according to a report presented by Smith to the board Nov. 15. Over 10 years, PfISD’s student population is projected to grow by over 5,000 students to a total of 31,047 students.

Delco Primary will add three additional grades to offer pre-K through fifth grade, Jones said. Dessau Elementary will add three additional grades to offer pre-K through fifth grade.

The attendance boundaries will also change to send 159 students from Delco Primary and Dessau Elementary to Copperfield Elementary School. This will help ensure that adding additional grades to Delco Primary and Dessau Elementary will not overcrowd the schools, according to Jones’ presentation.

To ensure these changes do not create overcrowding in the middle and high schools in these feeder patterns, those attendance boundaries were shifted slightly as well, Jones said. Schools with larger growth projections were funneled fewer additional students from the elementary schools, and schools with slower growth projections were funneled greater amounts of new students.

HISD adjusts for new elementary school

Ahead of Hutto ISD’s newest elementary school opening this fall, district officials approved redrawn attendance zone maps for its elementary school students—and the large majority of those affected are located in western Hutto.

The board of trustees voted Jan. 17 on a map that sends hundreds of students from Howard Norman Elementary and Veterans Hill Elementary to the upcoming Benjamin “Doc” Kerley Elementary. Kerley Elementary, a $26.5 million school that broke ground in February, is HISD’s seventh elementary campus.

Planned with the district’s tremendous current and projected growth in mind, the new attendance zones were designed to mitigate further changes that will be necessary in the near future for the school district.

“We’re not only looking to fill a school and reduce overpopulation. … We’re looking at the rates of growth at all campuses,” said Henry Gideon, assistant superintendent of operations for HISD.

Trustees voted on the measure after the school district held four meetings over the span of a month with families and organizations at separate district campuses. Gideon and other district officials at those meetings previewed a series of attendance zone maps revised for Kerley Elementary.

The zones were drawn in accordance with a series of parameters established by the district ahead of revisions: balancing, neighborhood unity, contiguous boundaries, natural lines, growth, family impact and transportation costs.

Those parameters were put in place to reduce the impact of new attendance zone maps on a number of items, according to Gideon. For example, the superintendent explains, drastically changing the socioeconomic makeup of an elementary school could affect the federal funding that campus receives.

Gideon estimates that approximately 550 students will be shifted into Kerley Elementary from Howard Norman Elementary and Veterans Hill Elementary.

In addition, a smaller number of students will move from Cottonwood Creek Elementary to the Veterans Hill campus as the district looks to get out ahead of future developments that will add thousands of homes to the area.

The Star Ranch neighborhood west of SH 130 in Hutto will see all of its elementary school students change schools in the 2019-2020 school year.

HISD is likely to undergo the attendance zone amendment process again several times in the near future because the district, much like the city, is growing at a tremendous rate.

From 2007-17, the district’s enrollment grew 66.41 percent, or 2,889 students.

Work begins on a new ninth grade center this spring, and while that alone will not necessitate new attendance zones, it will when the ninth grade center fully expands to become the district’s second high school. Gideon and Robison said the district already knows a third middle school is on its way.

“At some point in time, portions of students that are in Star Ranch and south of [Hwy.] 79 and students that are north of [Hwy.] 79 and west of [SH] 130 are going to make up middle school number three. Let’s gently rezone some of the Star Ranch and set that stage,” Gideon said.

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Iain Oldman
Iain Oldman joined Community Impact Newspaper after spending two years in Pittsburgh, Pa., where he covered Pittsburgh City Council. He additionally worked with an investigative news organization where he reported on environmental topics and was a featured writer for Epicast Network, a Pittsburgh podcast company. Iain has now transitioned full-time into covering Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto.
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