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After several meetings, the San Marcos CISD Attendance Zone Committee members are making progress toward their recommendation to the SMCISD school board regarding the 2009-2010 attendance zones of six elementary schools. To say this is not an easy project is classic understatement. Assistant Superintendent Mike Abild chairs the committee of about 38 persons from all walks of life. “We have educators, parents, business people, Texas State University consultants, and professional demographers all juggling priorities within our unique community and striving for balance,” Abild said.

A particular challenge is that many of the SMCISD campuses are located near the center of town, yet they serve students in outlying areas. “What seems to be evolving are wedges- similar to spokes on a wheel,” comments Superintendent Dr. Patty Shafer.

The committee has worked diligently to consider such issues as balanced student counts, socio-economic groups, special populations, safest routes of travel, minimal travel time and distance, consideration of future growth, and elimination of “pockets’ within attendance zones.

Abild and administrators from the SMCISD Transportation Department recently traveled to Dallas to spend the day working with demographers of School District Strategies on challenges unique to our community. The committee meets again on September 8 for more updates prior to providing the school board a first look at options at the September 15 school board meeting.

When the committee and school board reach a consensus on the proposed attendance zones for the six elementary schools, the committee will then move forward to decide what elementary schools will feed into Goodnight and Miller Middle Schools.

Additionally, District administrators and the Attendance Zone Committee will be studying the possibility of creating elementary schools that would contain PreK through 5th grade (versus the current K-5th).
“There are obvious up sides and down sides to the issue,” said Superintendent Shafer, “and we are weighing all the options. All data indicates that transition times are traumatic for students. That is part of our objective in our realignment plans for 2009-2010. The inclusion of Pre-Kindergarten with the elementary schools through grades 5 would give a local principal and staff as many as 6-7 years to work with the same group of students and their families. Families would have fewer transportation issues, and the PreKinders would be in newer, safer schools.”

The PreK -5 study is currently auditing departments and campuses to see if the option would be fiscally responsible and talking with the PreK teachers for their input and considerations.

This fall, the Attendance Zone Committee will hold additional community meetings to lay out the proposed zones to the public and take questions regarding the decision making process.

By IRIS CAMPBELL
Public Information Officer – San Marcos CISD

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