Waxahachie ISD officials held the first of three meetings Monday night to present information relating to the upcoming rezoning of school attendance zones.

The rezoning is for the previously approved reconfiguration of campuses that will see the following 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 junior high (sixth- to eighth-grade campuses).

For the district to adjust the student populations at the campuses, it must redraw the attendance zones for the elementaries and establish the elementary-to-junior high feeder system.

“When we look at the big picture, we’re trying to do the best we can for Waxahachie ISD,” superintendent Tom Collins told a crowd of about 60 people at the Fine Arts Center. “It is a tough situation, but we’re trying to make it as painless as possible for our students.

“We want to help with this – we want to do everything we can, but, again, we have to draw the lines and we want to do that as fairly and equitably as possible,” he said.

Dr. Stacey Tepera of Population and Survey Analysts explained the process the district has gone through in considering the best possible way to reconfigure and now rezone attendance zones.

Tepera compared the growth being seen by WISD to that of Mansfield ISD, pointing out that growth saw the Mansfield district grow from about 7,000 students 15 years ago to a student population of 32,000 in 2009-2010.

Mansfield has grown from six elementaries (“Does that number sound familiar?” she asked) to 22, with another three slated for construction. In the same time frame, MISD also has grown to have four high schools.

There are several similarities between the two districts, including small town lifestyles, short commutes to diverse work opportunities for parents and investors purchasing large tracts of land for development, Tepera said, detailing the process her demographer firm and the district went through in looking at the different options to handle the growth heading WISD’s way.

“We’re trying to do this the best way possible for our students,” Collins said.

Monday’s meeting was held to accept public input and answer questions about the different options, with it noted that information also is available to the public via the district’s website www.wisd.org.

At this time, Collins said he planned to recommend option No. 9 to the board of trustees as relating to the elementaries. That option will allow all of those campuses to meet Title 1 designation, continuing that federal funding, he said. Looking to the future, the six elementaries would range from 87-105 percent in utilization of space by 2015.

For the junior high campuses, Collins said he will recommend option No. 4, which would see short-term utilization of the Finley and Howard campuses at 81 percent of capacity, with Howard estimated to exceed the 100 percent utilization rate in 2016.

“We have attempted to set up a feeder system for the junior highs from elementaries, with only one elementary (Shackelford) that will have to be split (when students move up from the fifth to sixth grades),” Collins said.

The community is invited to attend the meetings, with the second one slated for 7 p.m. Feb. 15 at the Fine Arts Center and the third to be held at 7 p.m. Feb. 17, again at the Fine Arts Center.

Collins said he anticipated making his recommendation to the board of trustees at their Feb. 21 meeting for possible approval.

For more information, visit www.wisd.org or contact deputy superintendent David Truitt at 972-923-4931.

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