Waxahachie ISD held the third of three public forums last week relating to the rezoning of campus attendance zones – with the options and input now moving to the board of trustees for further discussion and decision.

The board will meet Monday, with the rezoning listed as an information item only on the agenda for the workshop, which starts at 6.

The regular meeting starts at 7:30 p.m., with the community having another opportunity to comment under the open forum time allotted.

Administrators have said a final decision is needed no later than the March meeting to allow enough time for staffing decisions and other details to be worked out in advance of the next school year.

The process

The reconfiguration/rezoning process began in the fall, with the board voting in December to adopt the following campus reconfiguration beginning with the 2011-2012 school year:

• Marvin Elementary: pre-kindergarten and other early childhood programs

• Clift Elementary: kindergarten through grade 5

• Dunaway Elementary: kindergarten through grade 5; bilingual program

• Felty Elementary: kindergarten through grade 5

• Northside Elementary: kindergarten through grade 5

• Shackelford Elementary: kindergarten through grade 5

• Wedgeworth Elementary: kindergarten through grade 5; bilingual program

• Finley Junior High: grades 6-8

• Howard Junior High: grades 6-8

Under the reconfiguration, kindergarten classes move from Marvin Elementary to their home elementary campuses, Clift Middle School changes from a sixth-grade only campus to K-5, and Finley Seventh Grade Center and Howard Eighth Grade Center change to three-grade level junior highs (sixth through eighth grades).

The next step for the district is the delineation of attendance zones.

Practical capacity

In determining each campus’ practical capacity, the administration used a 22:1 student-teacher ratio for grade level, content-specific instruction, not including special needs, art, science, computer and music rooms at the elementary level. Elective classes were included at the junior high level.

As an example, officials said Dunaway Elementary has 31 classrooms that can be used for grade level, content instruction. Multiplying 31 classrooms by 22 students puts that campus at a practical capacity of 682 in student population.

On the district’s website, the practical capacity of other campuses is shown as:

• Clift Elementary – 704

• Felty Elementary – 704

• Northside Elementary – 616

• Shackelford Elementary – 682

• Wedgeworth Elementary – 880

• Finley Junior High  – 1,078

• Howard Junior High – 968

Superintendent Tom Collins has previously said he will propose that fourth-graders be grandfathered to their campus for the 2011-2012 school year. As of the last public forum, Collins was leaning toward options 4 (junior high) and 10 or 12 (elementary)

All of the options can be viewed on the district’s website.

Criteria used

As discussed during the three public forums, the criteria used in determining options for the attendance zones included:

• best use of capacity for each campus, including a utilization that considered practical as well as optimal capacity, with student population projections at least five years forward. The short-term goal was from 75 to 90 percent utilization, with a long-term goal of about 93 percent.

• neighborhood campuses.

• cohesive, contiguous zones that follow major arterials or natural boundaries.

• socioeconomic balance among the zones, as measured by the percentage of free and reduced lunch students. (Administrators have noted that for campuses to receive Title 1, federal funding, and to be able to use that school-wide, the percentage must be at least 40 percent.)

• placement of special programs.

• feeder concept (where possible) that will see fifth-grade students from each elementary campus traveling together to grade six at a junior high campus.

• least amount of movement for current students to new campuses.

• transportation needs.

• locations and timing of future campuses.

• no campus within another campus attendance zone.

• program and staff equity.

Information,

questions

All of the material relating to the rezoning has been posted on the district’s website, www.wisd.org and parents who want to speak to an administrator can do so by calling the administrative offices at 972-923-4631.

Questions and verification as to which school a particular address will attend also can be e-mailed to deputy superintendent David Truitt at dtruitt@wisd.org.

The district’s demographer firm, Population and Survey Analysts, has compared WISD’s growth to that of Mansfield ISD, which grew from 7,000 students 15 years ago to a current student population of about 32,000.

Based upon the demographer’s reports and anticipated growth, WISD will next begin working on a plan to renovate and add classroom space on the ninth-grade academy and high school campuses. Officials anticipate adding a seventh elementary school and third junior high in either the 2014-2015 or 2015-2016 school year.

By 2019 or 2020, WISD anticipates a likely need for an eighth elementary and fourth junior high school.

Contact JoAnn at joann@wninews.com or 469-517-1452.