After four hours of deliberation, members of the Round Rock Independent School District Citizens' Boundary Committee agreed Jan. 11 to support, with some reservations, the district's proposed boundary changes meant to relieve overcrowding at some schools.
An over-capacity student population at Cedar Ridge High School has prompted officials to begin looking at possible changes to the school's boundaries, with a group of students from the Wells Branch subdivision currently attending the school slated to begin attending McNeil High School in the 2012–13 school year instead.
Cedar Ridge will reportedly have an additional 700 students next fall when the school adds its senior class, bringing total campus enrollment to about 3,000 students.
Round Rock ISD Transportation Director John Knight said in December that the school has a capacity of 2,440 students, not including potential portables on campus. With Wells Branch students attending McNeil in the 2012–13 school year, Cedar Ridge's student capacity would decrease from 117 percent to 110 percent.
The originally proposed boundary change would have affected Cedar Ridge ninth-graders and incoming eighth-grade students at Wells Branch who are currently attending Chisholm Trail Middle School.
But committee members expressed strong opposition to having Cedar Ridge ninth-graders move to McNeil, citing it would be harder for students to adapt to a new school and leave old friends behind.
"I like the idea of affecting the fewest number of kids and affecting the stability of where they're currently going to high school," said Ron Buffum, who represents the Stony Point High School feeder pattern within the committee.
The proposed plan also calls for students in the Berkman Elementary School zone to switch from Round Rock High School to Stony Point High School to relieve overcrowding at Round Rock.
"We have to relieve those high schools to get the education quality up," said Madhavi Nade, who represents the McNeil High School feeder pattern within the committee. "As much as I want to support the feeder pattern for my kid and for anybody's kid, it's about the [least] number of kids impacted."
Several committee members emphasized the main task at hand is to relieve Cedar Ridge of overcrowding, even if it means some students will be forced to change schools.
"We know we're in a large district that grows. With growth comes change," said Stephen Pazak, who represents the Stony Point High School feeder pattern within the committee.
Some board members asked why it seems to always be the same schools are affected by boundary changes.
"I do agree that Cedar Ridge needs some relief; I think the fact that kids at Wells Branch always seem to be affected stinks. Why is Westwood always left out?"asked Michael Farris, who represents the Cedar Ridge feeder pattern within the committee.
Superintendent Jesus Chavez noted Westwood High School is experiencing capacity issues as it is.
"I think when you look at high school size, as far as acreage available, Westwood has the least [of the high schools]. Right now, they currently have portables up front, and they are currently taking up some parking space when you don't have sufficient parking space, it causes more congestion in the morning," Chavez said."That's not to say we wouldn't work that. That's part of the reason during the last boundary change, a small section from Jollyville was moved to Westwood."
Chavez said the district allows for a high school to hold up to 2,800 to 2,900 students but concerns arise when that number begins getting closer and closer to 3,000.
"The way we've managed being over 3,000 in the past has been to have separate campuses," Chavez said, citing when Stony Point High School had the ninth-grade center in addition to the main campus which sophomores, juniors and seniors attended."The difference is we don't have two campuses at Round Rock High School."
The committee plans on making its recommendation to the Round Rock ISD Board of Trustees at the Jan. 19 regular board meeting. Board action is expected at the Feb. 16 board meeting.
At this point, Round Rock ISD administration can no longer modify the proposed boundary changes, so it will be up to the board of trustees whether or not to approve the Boundary Committee's recommendation.
For more information on the boundary process and to view proposed boundary maps, visit www.roundrockisd.org.