CISD responds to students displaced after Harvey

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Although 408 Conroe ISD students were displaced from their homes as a result of Hurricane Harvey, officials said they have not noticed a significant influx in students from outside the district as of Sept. 26.

Of these 408 students, none require special transportation arrangements—a service the district offers—because they are still living within their school’s attendance zone, said Chris Hines, CISD deputy superintendent of operations.

“There’s probably a whole bunch more we don’t know about because the families are still going to their regular school, or maybe they don’t tell anybody—they’re just moving on,” Hines said.

For students inside the district who are displaced during severe weather events, CISD provides transportation arrangements. All students in CISD were also offered free and reduced-cost lunch for a period of time following the hurricane, Hines said.

“In this particular event with Harvey, we have many students that have been displaced, but we didn’t have to make special transportation arrangements because they’re still living close to their home—they still live in the attendance boundaries,” Hines said.

A total of 74 students changed schools from within the district or came from outside the district in Harvey’s aftermath, Hines said.

Outside of students displaced within the district and coming from outside the district, it can be challenging to identify the actual total number of students affected if they do not require special transportation arrangements or other assistance, Hines said.

The federal McKinney-Vento Act, which primarily protects homeless students, allows children to immediately enroll in the public school in the attendance area where they are staying, according to the Texas Education Agency. This also applies to students displaced by Harvey, Hines said.

“For us, it is a reality that there are lots of families that are impacted, but some don’t consider themselves homeless, they just consider themselves living somewhere else until their house is ready,” he said. “That’s why it makes it hard to really get a count.”

As of Sept. 25, CISD had a total enrollment of 61,504 students, which is an increase of 1,500 students compared to the end of the 2016-17 school year, Hines said.

“We’re a little ahead of our projection,” he said. “I think we projected like 1,400 [new students], so we’re just a little over that.”

In general, the increase in student population is normal, Hines said. The extra student growth cannot definitively be attributed to an influx due to Harvey, he said.

As the area continues to recover, district officials are primarily focusing on transportation and free and reduced-cost lunch assistance, Hines said.

“Families [in the district]leave every day, so it’s a very fluid situation,” he said. “We always have people coming and going.”

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Beth Marshall

Born and raised in Montgomery County, Beth Marshall graduated from The University of Texas at San Antonio in 2015 with a bachelor's degree in communication and a minor in business. She was hired as a reporter for The Woodlands edition in 2016. Beth writes about education, health care and other news topics, as well as local artists and musicians each month.

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