Waxahachie ISD parents who have any questions about which campus their child will attend for the 2011-2012 school year are encouraged to attend either of two community meetings slated this week.

The first will be Tuesday, Feb. 15, with the second Thursday, Feb. 17. Both meetings begin at 7 p.m. and will be held in the Waxahachie High School Fine Arts Center.

During the meetings, the district’s demographer and administration staff will provide information about the proposed adjustments to campus attendance zones.

All of the material 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 an address will attend beginning  the 2011-2012 school year also can be e-mailed to deputy superintendent David Truitt at dtruitt@wisd.org.

The reconfigurations

As previously approved by the school board, WISD elementary and junior high campuses will be configured as follows 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).

For the district to adjust the student populations at its campuses, it must redraw the attendance zones for the elementaries, with a focus on those being neighborhood schools, and establish an elementary-to-junior high feeder system.

A sixth elementary

The district is excited about seeing its sixth elementary established, with the conversion of Clift Middle School (now sixth-grade only) into Clift Elementary (to serve kindergarten through fifth grade), Truitt said, noting that the campus will undergo some remodeling for the change to occur.

“It’s phenomenal what those students will have. It’s an incredible facility,” he said, saying that an open house and meet-the-teacher night will be held prior to the start of the school year for parents to meet the staff and students to see their new campus.

The reconfiguration/rezoning process began several months ago as a result of the fast growth WISD has seen in recent years.

After lengthy discussions, the board voted in December to adopt the aforementioned campus reconfiguration, with the next step being the delineation of attendance zones.

Criteria used

As presented in a community meeting held last week, 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.

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 said during last week’s meeting that he will propose that fourth-graders be grandfathered to their campus for the 2011-2012 school year. At this time, he said he is leaning toward the recommendations of options 4 (junior high) and 9 (elementary) as seen on the website for approval.

As additional information is received, however, the plans continue to be reviewed in determining the most optimal scenario for the district and its students.

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.

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.

At last week’s meeting, Dr. Stacey Tepera noted several similarities between the two districts that make them attractive to families, including small town lifestyles, short commutes to diverse work opportunities for parents and investors purchasing large tracts of land for development.

Collins said he wants to make his final recommendation on the options to the board at its Feb. 21 meeting.

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