Dripping Springs ISD approves new attendance zones for 2021-22 year

Photo of Cypress Springs Elementary
Cypress Springs Elementary School is set for completion in July. (Courtesy Barlett Cocke)

Cypress Springs Elementary School is set for completion in July. (Courtesy Barlett Cocke)

The Dripping Springs ISD board of trustees voted April 12 to approve new attendance zones for district elementary school students, preparing for the addition of the district’s fifth elementary school, Cypress Springs Elementary. In accordance with an updated recommendation from the district’s Administrative Attendance Zone committee, the board cast the unanimous vote at its first in-person public meeting since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The committee’s initial recommendation came at an earlier meeting March 29, following months of development and community input. The map proposed that day—the basis for the board’s final selection—involves a zoning configuration that sends all students in the district’s southwestern region to Walnut Springs Elementary School, as opposed to alternatives that would have routed many of those students to the new Cypress Springs Elementary.

The final, April 12, recommendation—referred to as Option E1 by the committee—adjusts to allow two neighborhoods (planning units 33 and 35 on the map below) to stay at the elementary schools they are currently zoned to—Walnut Springs Elementary and Dripping Springs Elementary, respectively.

The board also approved an associated middle school feeder pattern recommended by the committee, under which students at Dripping Springs Elementary and Walnut Springs Elementary will go on to attend Dripping Springs Middle School and Rooster Springs Elementary, Cypress Springs Elementary and Sycamore Springs Elementary go on to attend Sycamore Springs Middle School.

“[This option] places students in schools with the closest possible geographic proximity,” said Clint Pruett, DSISD director of facilities and construction and a member of the committee. “It limits the number of potential moves between schools . . . and also avoids dividing subdivisions.”

The tweaks applied to the committee’s originally proposed zones will temporarily alleviate overcrowding at Sycamore Springs Middle while still allowing classmates from the same elementary school not to be split up among multiple middle schools, interim Superintendent Brett Springston said. It also delays the need for Sycamore Springs Middle to install portables to accommodate an overflow of capacity—which would carry an estimated cost of at least $100,000 per unit. With the new zones, the district expects it will either need to build a new middle school or expand Sycamore Springs Middle by 2023 at a cost of $14 million, based on the district’s most recent demographic projections.

“These are projections. We don’t know what’s going to happen in reality, and COVID did make it even more to form projections,” board President Barbara Stroud said. “People just need to be aware that in a fast-growth district, we can’t make promises.”

Trustees also approved a grandfathering process, allowing incoming fifth-grade and eighth-grade students, along with their siblings, to stay at their current campus for the 2021-22 school year, should they choose. Siblings will only be able to be grandfathered for one year.

Learn more about the attendance zone development process here.
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.