Dripping Springs ISD shares 'starting point' maps for future elementary school zoning

Drone photo of Cypress Springs Elementary
Dripping Springs ISD officials shared drone footage of the under-construction Cypress Springs Elementary School at a Feb. 1 zoning meeting. (Courtesy Dripping Springs ISD)

Dripping Springs ISD officials shared drone footage of the under-construction Cypress Springs Elementary School at a Feb. 1 zoning meeting. (Courtesy Dripping Springs ISD)

Members of Dripping Springs ISD’s administrative attendance zone committee held the first of several community input meetings on Feb. 1, sharing two “staring point” maps for updated elementary school attendance zones. The district’s fifth elementary school, Cypress Springs Elementary School, will open this fall, affecting the district’s zoning.

Clint Pruett, Director of Facilities and Construction for the district, emphasized that the two maps presented at the meeting were not finalized.

“One of the reasons that we have this forum . . . is to get the feedback from the community to help us in developing the best possible solution," he said.

Pruett and the other members of the committee—consisting of interim Superintendent Brett Springston, DSISD trustee Shannon O’Connor, Assistant Superintendent for Learning & Innovation Karen Kidd, Chief Financial Officer Cedric Menchion, district communications director Dale Whitaker, Director of Transportation Pam Swanks, and all four of the district’s current elementary school principals—named several priorities for attendance boundaries. Proximity to schools; avoiding excess moves between campuses for students; traffic effects; balanced school populations; stability for special education students; and cohesion within neighborhoods were named as top priorities.

“As a fast-growing district that’s spread out over 200 square miles, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to meet all of these parameters for 100% of students,” Pruett said.

The two “starting point” maps, shown below, break down the district into 47 planning units, showing which neighborhoods would correlate with which elementary schools. The difference between the two maps comes down to units 27 and 28, which would be zoned to Walnut Springs Elementary School under option A and to Cypress Springs Elementary School under option B.

Middle school zoning is expected to remain the same as it currently is, Pruett said.

While some callers from the public said they were pleased with the proposed changes, others expressed concern about the proposed options, particularly those whose property would be zoned to a different school. A parent from the Kirby Springs neighborhood, Jon Gillum, said he was disappointed to see his area rezoned from Walnut Springs Elementary to Sycamore Springs Elementary on the starter maps.

"It's much easier to adapt to a new school when everyone in that school shares the new school experience, so I encourage the district to consider keeping kids either in their current school or move them to the new school to avoid unnecessary shuffling," he said.

Another parent, Blake Erickson, said he was unhappy to see his area of the Belterra neighborhood, The Views at Belterra, zoned away from Rooster Springs Elementary.

"It's a boot that will significantly disrupt the lives of the children and parents of this community," he said. "Your actions would eliminate the community feel fostered by the community school relationships that we currently have by removing residents from their community school."

The district will hold another community meeting Feb. 15, and possibly a third on March 4. The board of trustees is set to finalize a new zoning map by the end of March.
By Olivia Aldridge

Multi-Platform Journalist

Olivia hosts and produces Community Impact Newspaper's podcasts, The Austin Breakdown, The Houston Breakdown and The DFW Breakdown. She launched the podcasts after nearly three years as a reporter for the newspaper, covering public health, business, development and Travis County government for the Central Austin edition. Olivia worked as a reporter and producer for South Carolina Public Radio before moving to Texas.