The rezoning approved will primarily affect Frisco students who reside east of Custer Road, staff told the board in a Nov. 9 presentation. Students in ninth and 10th grades who live east of Custer will attend the new Emerson High School when it opens next fall, according to plans.
The approved attendance zones will alter boundaries at Liberty High School, Independence High School and Lebanon Trail High School as well as at Centennial High School and Heritage High School, both of which are at risk of surpassing the University Interscholastic League cutoff for enrollment for 5A schools.
Also affected by rezoning are Liscano Elementary, Nichols Elementary—which exceeded FISD capacity last school year—Hosp Elementary, Norris Elementary, Bledsoe Elementary, Ashley Elementary, Mooneyham Elementary and Sem Elementary.
Attendance boundaries will not change at the middle school level, officials said.
School attendance zone changes are routine business for Frisco ISD. Due to rapid population growth, the district has altered school boundaries within the district more than 20 times since 1995, according to district documents.
The district implements zoning changes in order to keep high school enrollment under 2,100 students, which supports a small-school model that allows more students to participate in extracurricular activities.
Administrators first presented the drafted plans to trustees and families affected by the rezoning process at the Nov. 9 meeting. Affected families were also notified by email.
The district held a special meeting Dec. 1 to allow for public comment.
Scott Warstler, the district’s executive director of operations, presented some alternate plans Dec. 14 in response to community input from the Dec. 1 meeting.
However, Warstler said he ultimately did not recommend modifying rezoning plans at the high school level because the outcomes would result in at least one high school moving into the 6A UIL classification as well as in the underutilization of Emerson High School, which is currently under construction on the district's east side in McKinney.
“Doing this, Emerson will never reach functional capacity,” Warstler said.
In an attempt to balance community feedback with appropriate high school enrollment numbers, Warstler proposed an exception for the approved boundaries: Rising freshmen and sophomores who have junior or senior siblings can choose where they attend school.
These freshmen and sophomores can choose between staying with their siblings' high school or following the rezoning plans to move onto the proposed zone campus. However, students will not be allowed to change campuses in the middle of their high school career.
“It is important for us to acknowledge that all students choosing to go back with older siblings are making a four-year commitment in that choice—not just a one-year commitment,” Warstler said.
All families affected by the zoning recommendations will receive an email Dec. 15. Students who have a choice as to which high school they will attend must fill out the required forms by Jan. 8.
Frisco ISD Board President Chad Rudy said the district acknowledged the difficulty of rezoning for students and families. All three of his daughters have been rezoned—some of them more than once, he said.
“[Rezoning] is something we take really [seriously], and it is really challenging, and it’s something we really try to minimize the impact on students every turn we can,” Rudy said.