Hays CISD rezoning committee sends 2 maps, with caveat, to board of trustees for final decision

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The Hays CISD high school rezoning committee held a final meeting Oct. 30 and voted to send two different maps to the board of trustees as recommendations as well as attach a general caveat regarding socioeconomic balance.

The committee is charged with redrawing attendance zones in advance of the opening of Johnson High School for the 2019-20 school year. According to the presentation from Tim Savoy, HCISD’s chief communications officer, the committee has considered 965 comments received through the district website as well as speakers at two public hearings and less formal opinions through conversations and social media.

The HCISD board of trustees ultimately approves any rezoning but asks an appointed committee made up of people with a connection to the district to listen to public opinion and make recommendations.

The two maps moving forward are Plan 3, which was previously considered, and a new map that was not released to the public before last night, Plan 6. Plan 6 was designed by the district administration between the second public hearing Oct. 25 and the final committee meeting, based partly on complaints received about Plan 5, Savoy said.

PLAN 3

School Number of students, 2019-20 Percent economically disadvantaged Year exceeds capacity  Middle school feeders
Hays 1,825 37.8 2023-24 Barton*, Wallace*
Johnson 2,048 41.2 After 2028-29 Dahlstrom, McCormick*
Lehman 2,055 61.8 2025-26 Chapa, Simon*

 

PLAN 6

School Number of students, 2019-20 Percent economically disadvantaged Year exceeds capacity  Middle school feeders
Hays 2,036 43.1 2022-23 Barton*, Chapa*
Johnson 2,012 37.9 2022-23 Dahlstrom, McCormick
Lehman 1,880 61.8 2028-29 Simon*, Wallace*


*Plan includes changes to this middle school’s attendance zone

All the plans were updated with statistics for the 2018-19 school year, which were just finalized. By factoring in current data, the percentage of economically disadvantaged students decreased across schools in all plans.

The committee retired Plan 5, which increased the percentage of economically disadvantaged students at Lehman High School and also positioned the Lehman enrollment to grow past capacity in just two years.

Neither Plan 6 nor Plan 3 hugely increases the gap between the number of economically disadvantaged students at Lehman compared to Hays or Johnson—last year’s numbers show Lehman at 64.3 percent economically disadvantaged and Hays at 41.6 percent—but neither reduces it a great deal. This gap was a frequent topic of conversation both in committee meetings and at public hearings.

With that gap in mind the committee decided to attach a caveat to the plans it will send to the board stating that the “committee recognizes the importance of supporting students who are economically disadvantaged” and asking that “the board and administration explore the development and implementation of special or magnet programs, or other mechanisms, that would foster success among students with economic disadvantages or promote socioeconomic diversity.” (Read the full caveat here.)

Both Plan 3 and Plan 6 make changes to the middle school attendance zones, but both send all students from two of the district’s six middle schools to each high school, keeping students together; splitting middle schools was part of some draft maps but proved to be unpopular when comments were considered, according to the committee.

The primary difference between Plan 3 and Plan 6 is that the latter sends one middle school located west of I-35 and one middle school located east of I-35 to each high school. Plan 3 sends two east-side schools to Lehman and two west-side schools to Hays. At both committee meetings and public hearings, the socioeconomic divide between the east and west sides of the district was a topic of discussion, with some advocating geographic diversity as a factor in drawing the maps.

The committee’s recommendations will be discussed at the board’s Nov. 12 meeting, and a deciding vote will be held at the Nov. 26 meeting. Both meetings are open and include public hearings.The district is also still soliciting comments about the draft maps via the rezoning page.

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