Tom Gunnell, Katy ISD’s chief operations officer, has taken to using the phrase “here we grow again” in reference to the fast-growth district that adds about 2,500 students each year and continues to construct new schools.
Three new facilities opened prior to this school year, and another three new buildings are set to open next year. In order to populate the new campuses—Paetow High, Stockdick Junior High and Bryant Elementary schools—KISD rezoned portions of the district in anticipation of the 2017-18 school year at the Dec. 12 board of trustees meeting.
Under the new attendance boundaries, Paetow High School will absorb students from Katy and Morton Ranch high schools; Stockdick Junior High School will take on growth from Katy and McDonald junior high schools; and Bryant Elementary School will provide relief for Katy and Wolman elementary schools.
“You can always expect to modify the boundaries when a new school opens,” Gunnell said. “Obviously, you have to fill the new school, so kids have to come from someplace.”
The district brought before the board initial rezoning recommendations at its Nov. 15 workshop. Considerations for 2017-18 included schools operating at 120 percent or more capacity if no relief was expected to be provided by a future school.
The recommendations were then revised largely based on an online community input survey.
While the preliminary junior high school boundary modifications did not change, the boundary modifications for the district’s high schools and elementary schools were slightly altered. Important factors for the revisions included more closely aligning high school boundaries with junior high school boundaries, keeping all of the Falls at Green Meadows subdivision at Katy Elementary School and placing all the Cane Island development at Bryant Elementary School, said Gunnell and Kris Pool, chief data analyst for Population & Survey Analysts—a company based in College Station that assists KISD with its rezoning process.
“If a neighborhood resides within [downtown Katy], then it should be rightfully zoned to the schools located within [downtown] Katy,” said Jennifer Stewart—a Falls at Green Meadows resident who drafted the subdivision’s official petition to the district—in a statement.
The existing attendance boundary modification process has been in effect since 2012, Gunnell said. He completely transformed the procedure upon his hiring in 2008, and it has undergone several changes since then.
“You don’t know if you might have missed something,” Gunnell said. “And you want to make sure that people get an opportunity to tell you that.”
Looking forward, Gunnell said rezoning for the 2018-19 school year is expected to be simpler since KISD will only open one new campus—an elementary school in Cross Creek Ranch.
Grandfathering—which only applies to juniors and seniors at KISD’s high schools—could be used for Katy High and Morton Ranch High schools in the future as well, Gunnell said. Since Paetow will only have freshman and sophomore classes in 2017-18, grandfathering will not be a concern for next year. However, as Paetow adds juniors in 2018-19 and seniors in 2019-20, the “unbroken line of siblings” rule comes into effect, he said.
“If you have a big family, and [the children are] spaced out three years apart, you’re going to be [at a particular high school for] 30 years,” said Lee Crews, an assistant superintendent for instructional and administrative support.