Spring ISD will see several changes this year at the middle school level, where new attendance boundaries, the opening of two middle schools and a new campus for Roberson Middle School are all planned for August.
Construction on the two middle school buildings is underway as part of the $330 million 2016 bond referendum, which provided up to $80 million for middle school construction.
The district announced late last year the formation of a ninth middle school—Spring Leadership Academy—which will occupy the building formerly used for the Spring Early College Academy on T.C. Jester Boulevard. The district’s early college, which allows selected students to earn college credit while attending high school, will operate out of Lone Star College-North Harris beginning this fall.
“[The academy’s move] has provided us the opportunity to provide more choice and opportunity for our families here in Spring [ISD],” said Lupita Hinojosa, SISD chief of school leadership and student support services.
The district’s decision to open a leadership-focused middle school and boost other offerings throughout SISD came about after the district gathered community feedback through a listening tour in September that indicated as many as 5 percent of families opt out of SISD when entering sixth grade, Hinojosa said.
“We determined that there had been a slight decrease [in enrollment], and as we researched we noticed that the decrease was happening at [the]middle school [level],” she said.
Among the concerns parents listed during the district’s listening tour were safety, bullying and class sizes at the middle school level, Hinojosa said. They also expressed an interest in new opportunities and programs, which SISD is addressing in part through the new academy and also by offering international baccalaureate curriculum at the new Springwoods Village Middle School under construction off I-45 North on Crossgate Boulevard near Northgate Crossing Elementary School. The $33 million school was named in December and will accommodate up to 725 students, Hinojosa said.
The other new building funded through bond money is a facility for Roberson, an existing school of choice in the district focusing on math, science and fine arts. The school’s existing location on Southridge Road will become a ninth-grade building for Westfield High School this fall. The new location for Roberson is a 22-acre site north of Spears Road at 12430 Veterans Memorial Drive. The $35 million school will accommodate up to 800 students, Hinojosa said.
Hinojosa said the district is not expecting additional costs to arise from the new schools and programs, as the student population is not anticipated to increase and new positions will replace others lost through attrition in the district.
The board at its Jan. 15 meeting approved Phase 2 of its middle school plan, which includes programs to ease the transition for students and parents into middle school and rethinks its approaches to discipline, safety and college preparedness. Included in these programs are the district’s online bully reporting tool, restorative discipline practices and participation in the Youth Mental Health First Aid program to provide support for adolescents in distress.
“It’s a very systemized [and]systemic districtwide plan to get us to [where]… we heard our community request back in 2015,” Hinojosa said, referring to the district’s five-year Every Child 2020 strategic plan, which launched in 2015. “Everything is coming to fruition.”