In an effort to shore up continuing budgetary deficit issues, Richardson ISD staff and members of its Community Budget Steering Committee are proposing to consolidate or repurpose a number of elementary school campuses.

The proposal, called Project RightSize, would affect five campuses within the district, reducing expenditures by around $10.8 million annually, in addition to bringing in an estimated $10 million in one-time funds, according to a Feb. 22 presentation made to the board of trustees.

“It is with an absolute commitment that we’re going to put our students, our parents and our staff first, but also a recognition that if we are going to create a budget that is sustainable, ... we have to do things differently,” Superintendent Tabitha Branum said at the meeting.

What you need to know

Elementary schools that would have their attendance boundaries changed by the proposal for the 2024-25 school year include Greenwood Hills Elementary, Springridge Elementary, Spring Valley Elementary and Thurgood Marshall Elementary. The plan would also close the Dobie Pre-Kindergarten School in the 2025-26 school year as many elementary campuses have added pre-K programs since its opening, Branum said at the meeting.

“We wanted to make sure the demographic makeup of our schools stayed consistent. ... We wanted the enrollment to stay as consistent as possible, while bringing up our utilization numbers, so that we are the most efficient that we can be for our campuses,” said Sandra Hayes, RISD assistant superintendent of district operations, at the meeting.

Project RightSize would also do away with non-contiguous attendance boundaries, meaning students who are currently bused to schools with different attendance zones would attend the school nearest to them—something district officials estimate would save around $300,000 annually.

Under the proposal, Thurgood Marshall would be repurposed as the Thurgood Marshall Learning Center, which would house a center for the district’s new law program as well as become the new location for RISD’s alternative education program. Spring Valley would be repurposed to house RISD employees currently working at the Professional Development Center.

The context

Hayes said the schools that were identified in the plan are all nearly 60% under capacity, have declining enrollment numbers and high maintenance costs due to their age.

After losing around 2,200 students since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, RISD has about 9,000 open elementary students seats, Branum said. With the campus consolidation proposal, the number is expected to drop to 4,400, she said, adding that no teaching positions are expected to be cut.

No secondary schools would be affected under the proposal.

“If you did a simple comparison, you can see that by far across the state we have one of the lowest elementary [attendance] size comparisons,” Branum said.

The background

Formed in July 2023—about a month after the district adopted its $407.7 million budget for fiscal year 2023-24, which included a nearly $15 million deficit—the budget steering committee has been looking at areas such as facility utilization, staffing and compensation, administration, and revenue generation to address future shortfalls.

The FY 2023-24 budget is the fourth consecutive deficit budget adopted by RISD, according to the district’s website. The FY 2022-23 budget included a deficit of $25.9 million.

For FY 2024-25, the district expects to have a more than $28 million shortfall, Branum said.

Other measures proposed by the committee during a Dec. 14 board meeting include:
  • Opening enrollment to students outside the district
  • Adding a $0.03 increase to the district’s maintenance and operations tax rate that would need to be approved by voters
  • Making cuts to RISD’s central and support departments
  • Implementing a new staffing framework
Branum said the district’s past and future expected budgetary issues stem from a lack of increase to public education funding from the Texas Legislature since FY 2018-19.

“If we are here a year from now, 18 months from now after the next legislative session and there is not an increase to the basic [per-student] allotment, the level of cuts that we’re talking about tonight are just the beginning,” Branum said. “We will have no choice then but to talk about eliminating positions. ... We will be talking about eliminating student programs that are the foundation of what makes this district what it is.”

What’s next?

District officials plan to adopt the FY 2024-25 budget in June. However, staff is aiming to finalize plans for elementary school consolidations by the end of March to give time to prepare for the upcoming school year.

Beginning on Feb. 26, district officials plan to host a number of community meetings for the affected campus communities to hear feedback and answer questions from parents and staff.

Meetings for each school include:
  • Greenwood Hills Elementary: Feb. 26 from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Pearce High School Commons Area, 1600 N. Coit Road, Richardson
  • Springridge Elementary: Feb. 27 from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Berkner High School Auditorium, 1600 E. Spring Valley Road, Richardson
  • Spring Valley Elementary: Feb. 28 from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Richardson High School Auditorium, 1250 W. Belt Line Road, Richardson
  • Thurgood Marshall Elementary: March 4 from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Lake Highlands High School H Building Auditorium, 9449 Church Road, Dallas
  • Dobie Pre-Kindergarten School: March 5 from 6-7:30 p.m. at the RISD Academy, 13630 Coit Road, Dallas
“Our overall goal is to address our budget challenge in a way that does not impact the programs and services we offer to students, and allow us to continue to provide educators with competitive compensation so we can continue to attract and retain the quality staff necessary to continue our students’ academic growth,” Branum said in a new release.

To view the whole Project RightSize proposal, visit