As its first meeting of 2020 on Jan. 21, the Conroe ISD board of trustees approved and considered various projects, including full-day prekindergarten, rezoning and the 2020-21 school calendar.
The trustees unanimously approved applying for a waiver for the 2019-20 school year but are expected to open full-day pre-K next year.
Full-day pre-K is a requirement that came with House Bill 3, which was signed into law June 11. However, in order to apply for a waiver available to the district, the district has to look into private partnerships with local schools to offer pre-K through them.
Assistant Superintendent Of Elementary Education Debbie Phillips said the district received five applications and ultimately decided it could open for full-day pre-K in the 2020-21 school year without private partners.
“We’re expecting quite a few students—approximately 1,600 to 1,700 pre-K students—and we feel we can find space through several avenues,” Phillips said.
Phillips said many of the schools in question can utilize portable buildings while new schools and additions are still being built. She said the rezoning in The Woodlands and College Park feeder zones will also help free up space.
Of the approximately 1,600 students, 326 are expected to go to the Caney Creek feeder zone, 688 to Conroe, 116 to Grand Oaks, 199 to Oak Ridge, 112 to The Woodlands and 88 to College Park, according to Phillips.
Phillips said although many of the private applicants had great spaces and would save space, the locations were not ideal, and none of the providers could serve more than 80 students.
The district currently offers full-day pre-K at Sam Houston and Houser elementary schools. Students eligible for full-day pre-K include students who receive free or reduced-price lunches and those who have difficulty speaking English.
The board heard two rezoning plans, one for Stockton Junior High School and one for The Woodlands and College Park feeder zones.
Deputy Superintendent Chris Hines recommended Junior High School Scenario B and Intermediate Scenario 2 for the rezoning fo Stockton. He said the CISD Attendance Boundary Committee, which is made up of administrators, teachers and parents, has rezoned Peet and Washington junior high schools to reduce crowding as Washington is repurposed as Washington High School.
“The goal was to reduce the crowing at Peet give Peet room for growth and at the same time, leave a little bit of room at Stockton,” Hines said.
The committee also rezoned the intermediate schools to accommodate the change in the population. Scenario 2 rezones a small portion of Cryar Intermediate School to Bozman Intermediate School.
The board unanimously approved the plan. Stockton is expected to open for the 2020-21 school year at 2750 Excellence Ave., Conroe.
The board also heard a report from the committee about potential rezoning for The Woodlands and College Park elementary schools. Director for Elementary Education Shellie Winkler said many schools in the feeder zone are at or near capacity and this rezoning will help create space for potential growth.
Residents can view the scenarios online. Winkler said the committee will seek community input on the different scenarios throughout January and February before seeking board approval.
The board also approved the calendar for the 2020-21 school year. The school year will begin Aug. 12 and end May 26, with a week off for Thanksgiving and a four-day weekend in October.
Hines said the calendar was crafted based on a survey sent out to families in the district. He said of the 3,660 responses, there were several popular initiatives, including ending the semester prior to winter break, ending the year in May rather than starting later in August and a weeklong Thanksgiving vacation.
Trustee Scott Moore thanked Hines and his committee for the decision to make Election Day a staff development day with no students.
“I know I beat that drum loudly when you came before,” Moore said.
Although trustee Dale Inman was absent from the Jan. 21 meeting, the ongoing controversy surrounding a drag queen event at Willis High School has followed the board into the new year.
Three residents called for Inman’s resignation or an apology. Rachel Walker, a CISD parent and the engagement specialist for The Woodlands Pride, criticized Inman for recently sharing a post that compares the LGBTQ community to pedophiles. She said a user in the comments said if one of “those” people approached their children, they would “put a bullet in his head and a bullet in his chest.”
“I understand that speech is free, and we’re free to post what we like on our Facebook page,” Walker said. “But when you hold a position on the school board, and you are an elected official, you are in a position to hold yourself to a higher standard.”
Walker went on to thank the board, noting Inman was absent and that “this is exhausting to hear about.”
The next regular CISD board of trustees meeting is Feb. 18 at 6 p.m. 3205 W. Davis St., Conroe.