The unnamed elementary and junior high campuses will be part of a TISD complex at Cypress Rosehill Road and the Grand Parkway, funded by a $275 million bond referendum approved by voters in November 2017. Land clearing is underway, as Community Impact Newspaper previously reported.
Led by Gutierrez, the committee of about 20 parents and a few TISD staff had three meetings in October to discuss proposed boundary changes.
As the committee was tasked only with realigning elementary and junior high boundaries, high school and intermediate zones will not be altered, Gutierrez said, which means for the first time some elementary and junior high schools will include students bound for both high schools.
“If you are currently zoned to Tomball High School, your high school is still going to be Tomball High School,” Gutierrez said during the Oct. 3 meeting. “This will really be one of the first times where we have a campus where we have students that are Cougars and Wildcats. I think that’s also a unique opportunity for that kind of culture building and understanding, ‘Hey, we still are one Tomball.’”
New elementary boundaries would take effect for the 2020-21 school year, as the new elementary school is slated to open in August 2020, Gutierrez said. Junior high boundaries would be realigned for the 2021-22 school year ahead of the junior high opening in August 2021.
The district last realigned attendance boundaries in 2014 ahead of Wildwood Elementary, Oakcrest Intermediate and Creekview Elementary opening, Director of Digital Communications Justin Warnasch said.
“I understand in the end it won’t make everybody happy,” Superintendent Martha Salazar-Zamora said Oct. 17. “People are usually OK with it until it affects their family. It has to affect someone’s family or else this is all for nothing. We have new schools being built, and we will have to have children in them.”
To populate the new schools and accommodate anticipated enrollment over the next decade, the district will pull students from overcrowded campuses, such as Wildwood Elementary, Lakewood Elementary and Willow Wood Junior High, Gutierrez said.
Neighborhoods that may be rezoned include Hayden Lakes, Enclave at Hayden Lakes, Enclave at NorthPointe and Lakes at NorthPointe, according to committee discussion.
The committee was tasked with proposing realignment options that would reduce enrollments at Wildwood by 363-409 students and at Lakewood by 150-195 students to bring the two schools to 80%-85% of their building capacities, Gutierrez said.
“At the end of the process, we’re going to end up where we don’t have any of the schools from elementary up through high school over their capacity,” said Jake Dulle, a committee member and parent of two Wildwood Elementary students, in an interview. “It’s an annoyance and uncomfortable that some people have to move and be able to go to this school, but everybody is going to end up with a better experience throughout the district by the time we’re done with this.”
Gutierrez said targeted opening enrollment for the new elementary school is 552-644 students, which would be about 70% of the building’s capacity of about 920 students.
“If we do this [realignment] correctly, there really is capacity [in elementary schools] with what we have and the one coming on next year for the next 10 years,” Gutierrez said Oct. 3, referring to projections from Templeton Demographics. “We are going to gradually fill that [new] school.”
The targeted initial enrollment for the new junior high school—slated to hold 1,500 students—is between 486-613 students, Gutierrez said, which will reduce enrollment at the overcrowded Willow Wood Junior High by the same amount and return the existing campus to 70%-80% of its building capacity.
The rezoning process
Committee members formulated proposed boundaries by looking at the number of students in each neighborhood and targeted enrollments for new or overcapacity schools as well as 10-year enrollment projections. Guiding principles also included optimizing space, making an effort to keep subdivisions together, determining attendance zones by natural boundaries, considering families, planning for growth and striving for efficient bus transportation, Gutierrez said.
However, Dulle said the committee’s work was somewhat limited by new school locations already having been chosen and high school and intermediate boundaries staying the same.
“How do you do the least disruption but also relieve the capacity so no one is in a temporary building?” said Dulle, whose children will likely be rezoned to the new junior high. “There aren’t actually that many options with how the district is growing.”
A public forum will be held at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 14 at the Staff Development Center at 1302 Keefer Road, Tomball, where residents can suggest minor changes to the proposed rezoning maps, which the board of trustees will consider Dec. 10, Gutierrez said.
“In a fast-growth district, unfortunately [rezoning is] a byproduct of that destination district,” he said Oct. 17. “It’s a great place to be, but I understand that it does come with a little bit of heartache.”