Richardson ISD officials are looking to increase the district's total enrollment by allowing more students to enroll outside the district starting in the 2023-24 school year.

The RISD board of trustees discussed creating a potential open-enrollment program during a March 30 work session. The proposed program, known as the Open Enrollment Inter-District Transfer program, would allow students who live outside the district’s boundaries the opportunity to apply for enrollment at a RISD school. No decision or vote on the program was taken by the board.

District officials are expected to use the open-enrollment program to alleviate a $23.7 million budgetary deficit caused by reduced enrollment, inflation and a lack of new funding from the state since before the pandemic, according to RISD Superintendent Tabitha Branum. RISD has almost 10,000 elementary seats available at its schools.

Branum said while open enrollment would not be not a standalone solution to the budgetary shortfall, she has heard an appetite from the board to expand the district's school choice programs, both strengthening RISD's magnet program and providing more options to students.

“We have a newer demographic in our community that is asking for some of the choice options that are available in the surrounding districts,” Branum said at the meeting. “They want to find the instructional opportunity that may best meet the needs of our students. I want our RISD families to be find that program they want in district and not have to find it in a charter or a private school.”

If the plan is approved, the district would utilize it in a limited capacity during the 2023-24 school year, with additional programs considered for the 2024-25 school year.

Open-enrollment transfer applications would be for students in kindergarten through 12th grade based on campus availability. The number of openings for transfer students, who can apply for up to three campuses of their choice, would be limited based on staffing and campus capacity. Branum said RISD would not provide transportation to and from school for interdistrict transfer students.

RISD parents would be required to complete a transfer application, which includes enrollment forms and documents, when submitting their request. Required forms include proof of residency, an attendance record, a current report card and a discipline record.

Interdistrict transfers are expected to be approved for one school year only under Texas Education Code requirements, according to district officials. All interdistrict transfer students must reapply and qualify annually to remain enrolled in RISD.

For more information, including the school code of conduct and UIL rules for transfer students, click here.