The committee reconvened to discuss options for realigning junior high boundaries in the southern portion of the district after the board of trustees took no action to approve previously recommended junior high boundaries in December.
“Thank you for hanging in there with us," Superintendent Martha Salazar-Zamora said to committee members. "I know it can’t always be easy when you’re making decisions that affect so many people.”
The committee, a group composed of parents and TISD staff, met throughout October to consider creating new boundaries for elementary and junior high schools, which were recommended to the board in December. New attendance boundaries for elementary schools in southern TISD were unanimously approved Dec. 10 and take effect for the upcoming 2020-21 school year, Community Impact Newspaper previously reported, but new junior high boundaries have not yet been decided. The new junior high boundaries would take effect for the 2021-22 school year, coinciding with the expected opening of Junior High School No. 4 in August 2021, Community Impact Newspaper previously reported.
Board President Michael Pratt expressed his concern during the December board of trustees workshop that not enough students were moving from the Willow Wood Junior High zone to the new junior high school zone under the initial plan proposed by the District Zone Committee, Community Impact Newspaper previously reported.
As such, the committee adjusted the targeted enrollment for Willow Wood from about 1,100 students in 2021-22—the forecast enrollment for the recommended plan—to fewer than 1,000 students in 2021-22, Gutierrez said during the Jan. 23 meeting. Currently, Willow Wood enrolls 1,506 students and has a building capacity of 1,200 students, he said.
“If we can get to 950 [students]—that is kind of that gold standard there—that would mean an approximate reduction of 560 students from the current enrollment," Gutierrez said during the Jan. 23 meeting.
The new junior high school, to be located at the Elmer & Dorothy Beckendorf Complex at Cypress Rosehill Road and Grand Parkway next to the coming-soon Grand Oaks Elementary, will have a capacity of 1,500 students, making it larger than Willow Wood, he said.
During the committee meeting, members worked in four groups to draft plans reducing Willow Wood's enrollment. The groups came up with essentially two plans: moving all of the Canyon Pointe Elementary zone to Junior High School No. 4 or moving part of the Canyon Pointe Elementary zone to the new school.
In an effort to keep neighborhoods together, committee members voiced support for moving all of the Canyon Pointe zone to the new junior high school. Although a plan has not yet been recommended to the board of trustees, this would mean moving families within the existing Oakcrest Intermediate zone, which includes Canyon Pointe and Wildwood elementaries as well as families within the newly adopted Grand Oaks zone, effective in 2020-21, to Junior High School No. 4. This would leave families within the existing Willow Creek Elementary zone and the newly adopted Lakewood Elementary zone, both of which are zoned to Northpointe Intermediate, remaining at Willow Wood Junior High.
Under current enrollment boundaries, Oakcrest Intermediate feeds to Willow Wood Junior High, while the Grand Oaks Elementary zone is split between Willow Wood and Tomball Junior High, according to district information.
“It’s clean, it does align [with the elementary plan], and I think it does achieve the target that we’re talking about," Gutierrez said during the meeting.
The committee will hold an open public forum Jan. 30 at the TISD Staff Development Center, located at 1302 Keefer Road, Tomball, from 5:30-7:30 p.m., during which residents can share comments and ask questions about the proposed junior high boundary changes. An online survey will also be posted on the district’s website to gather public input on the proposed changes, Gutierrez said.
The committee will meet again Feb. 6 at the Staff Development Center from 12:30-2:30 p.m. to formally recommend a junior high alignment to the board of trustees, which is anticipated to vote on the change Feb. 11. Affected families will be notified in February and March, Gutierrez said. The board may also vote on a name for the new junior high school at that time, he said.