Conroe ISD's 2021-22 school year calendar and an attendance boundary change for some elementary school students, mainly within the Caney Creek High School feeder zone, were both approved by the CISD board of trustees Jan. 19.

The Caney Creek rezoning plan, developed with community input by the CISD Attendance Boundary Committee last fall, will shift around 1,000 elementary school students on the district's east side between campuses to begin the next school year. Officials said the rezoning process was initiated both to relieve crowding at some existing elementary schools in the Caney Creek High School feeder zone and to populate the new Ruben W. Hope Jr. Elementary School, which will open in August.

Under the plan, Hope Elementary will open with fewer than 400 students enrolled—less than half of its 950-student capacity. Current crowding at Austin and Creighton elementary schools and projected future crowding at San Jacinto Elementary will also be offset by shifting some students between those schools and Hope, Milam, Patterson and Anderson elementary schools. In total, 982 elementary school students are expected to be affected by the attendance boundary change.

"We had a committee come together and worked on it. And we knew that this was going to be challenging because to do this—we had to kind of cascade a lot of students down in order to make it work," Deputy Superintendent Chris Hines said. "The group really worked hard on this. They went through several goals to try to be mindful of this, [to] try not to impact more than we needed to."

Hines said the plan was influenced by the planned openings of a new elementary campus in the Conroe High School feeder zone next year and of new elementary and intermediate schools in the Caney Creek zone in the coming years.

The boundary committee's final rezoning recommendation, Scenario 7, was previously presented at the trustees' December regular meeting prior to its final consideration during the Jan. 19 board session. Trustees unanimously approved the recommended scenario without discussion following brief presentations on the plan by Hines and Executive Director of Operations Chris McCord.

“It keeps all campuses discussed over 400 students. Economically disadvantaged numbers are relatively unchanged and balanced among all the campuses there involved," McCord said. "Scenario 7.0 is recommended by our committee as it addressed in a kid-friendly fashion the largest number of issues and provides boundary help to not just the Caney Creek zone but also the Conroe High School zone."

After considering the rezoning plan, trustees went on to unanimously approve the district's 2021-22 school year calendar. The schedule was developed over recent months through a district-level planning committee with community input.

The 176-instructional day calendar will see students begin the 2021 fall semester Aug. 11 and conclude the 2022 spring semester May 26.

Hedith Sauceda-Upshaw, the district's assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, said aspects of the calendar that garnered broad community support include a midweek start date in August, a full-week Thanksgiving break and an end date before Memorial Day. A student holiday previously included in November for Election Day was also moved to April to provide for a four-day weekend in the middle of the month.

"I really like the addition of that extra April date," trustee Theresa Wagaman said. "When you come from spring break and you go all the way through May, there's a very long period of time without any breaks, and I think this will be really nice for those that are looking to celebrate the Easter holidays and just have a little extra family time."

The board also approved a $2.17 million purchase of 20 replacement school buses and a guaranteed maximum price amendment for $4.25 million in annual districtwide safety and security projects Jan. 19. The safety items, funded through the district's 2019 bond, include campus surveillance, access control, intrusion detection and fire alarm projects.