The measure, which was brought forth by district staff including Superintendent Hafedh Azaiez as a method of increasing enrollment, was approved by the board in a 4-0 vote. Place 1 Trustee Jun Xiao was not in attendance, and Place 2 Trustee Mary Bone and Place 7 Trustee Danielle Weston left the meeting during public comment, after staying through the public hearing for the district's tax rate.
Basic allotment and average daily attendance funding for inter-district transfer students would follow them to RRISD, Chief Financial Officer Dennis Covington told the board at a May 19 meeting.
"[The Texas Education Agency] doesn't care where they live as long as they enrolled in our district," Covington said.
District administrative staff selected 13 elementary and two middle school campuses to participate in the pilot program. All are currently projected to be below 70% capacity during the next school year.
District data presented May 18 show more than 5,000 students living in the RRISD footprint are enrolled in local private and charter schools as well as neighboring ISDs during the 2021-22 school year. During that same school year, 507 students transferred into RRISD from neighboring districts, Azaiez said, as its employees are currently allowed to enroll their students there.
Priority for the program will be given to intra-district transfers. Inter-district transfer students coming into RRISD under the open enrollment pilot will be guaranteed a place on their campus for the duration of their time on that campus, but the district cannot guarantee students will remain in the same feeder pattern once they have completed fifth or eighth grade.
"With all of the current unknowns of enrollment, growth, and the impact of the pandemic, campuses will be evaluated on an annual basis to determine their status for receiving more students each year," district documents state.
Inter-district transfers will also be held to the same standards as intra-district transfer students, and will be expected to maintain good grades, attendance and behavior. They will be evaluated for these on an annual basis.
Some parents spoke out during a discussion of possibly making RRISD an open enrollment district at May 18 and 19 meetings of the school board, expressing that resources at some campuses are already limited and cannot handle additional students.
"Are they going to go to the marginalized high school that my children go to?" district parent Orlando Salinas said. "What about us? What about our children?"
The district is currently developing an application process and communication plan to solicit interested families.
The following campuses will be included in RRISD's pilot program:
- Berkman Elementary
- Bluebonnet Elementary
- Caldwell Heights Elementary
- Canyon Creek Elementary
- Deep Wood Elementary
- Forest North Elementary
- Pond Springs Elementary
- Redbud Elementary
- Robertson Elementary
- Teravista Elementary
- Union Hill Elementary
- Voigt Elementary
- Wells Branch Elementary
- C.D. Fulkes Middle School
- Pearson Ranch Middle School