By BILL PETERSON
Editor at Large
The recommendation is in, and now it falls to school parents in the San Marcos CISD to decide what they’ll make of new elementary school attendance zones as the school district strives to complete the 2004 bond issue.
The recommendation is part of a comprehensive program to re-align the San Marcos schools after voters approved a $122.7 million debt issue to upgrade the facilities. The project has taken nearly five years, in part due to the challenges of rebuilding existing schools while maintaining operations.
The upshot is that the school district would divide into two middle school zones divided by a line roughly parallel with Interstate-35, though with pronounced exceptions on the north and south, where the Goodnight zone would reach significantly east of the Interstate. I-35 runs northeast to southwest through the city. The plan calls for Miller Middle School on the northwest side of the line, with Goodnight Middle School on the southeast side of the line.
The elementary schools feeding Miller would be Crockett, a new and unnamed elementary school near the city center and Hernandez, which is being converted from an intermediate school for the fifth and sixth grades as part of the realignment. The elementary schools feeding Goodnight would be Bowie, DeZavela and Travis.
“You will never make everybody happy,” said Grace Mueller, president of the San Marcos Classroom Teachers Association, about attendance zoning. “… But it closely matches the priorities that we set for the benefit of the children.”
The realignment would place kindergarten through fifth grade in the elementary schools, which presently go up to the fourth grade. The intermediate school layer for fifth and sixth grade would be eliminated, with sixth through eighth grades attending middle schools. Presently, the district runs junior high schools for seventh and eighth grades.
The committee also recommended a transitional program that would allow some families to keep their children in their present schools if the new attendance zones would place them elsewhere. Parents of third and fourth graders can keep their kids in their present school, so long as they provide transportation and the school’s enrollment doesn’t pass 90 percent of its capacity. Parents of seventh graders would be offered the same deal.
The administration will take a final recommendation to the school board at its Nov. 17 meeting. Between now and then, the board will hold public hearings on Nov. 3 and Nov. 10 to receive feedback from the community. The Nov. 3 meeting is set for Travis Elementary, with the Nov. 10 meeting scheduled for Bowie Elementary. Both meetings are set for 6 p.m.
The school district seated a 38-person committee composed of citizens, teachers and school officials to work up new attendance zones. Among the priorities were the creation of logical bus routes, the preservation of neighborhood integrity, the avoidance of a north-south split, demographic balance and the elimination of pockets that aren’t contiguous with the rest of a school’s attendance zone.
The draft presented Monday night was the fifth developed by the committee with guidance from the school district’s consultant, School District Strategies of Dallas.
San Marcos Assistant Superintendent Mike Abild reported that the committee tried to bring in each school as close as possible to the school district’s demographic averages for the elementary grades. The school district is 21 percent white, 73 percent Hispanic, five percent African-American, one percent other and 65 percent economically disadvantaged.
The northwestern elementary schools Crockett and Hernandez are the least economically disadvantaged. Crockett would hold 547 students in 2009, including 39 percent white, 60 percent Hispanic and 60 percent economically disadvantaged. Hernandez would hold 457 students, making it the least populated elementary, including 28 percent white, 65 percent Hispanic and 59 percent economically disadvantaged.
In order the balance the Miller Middle School zone, the proposal placed the unnamed elementary with Crockett and Hernandez. The unnamed school would include 517 students, including 12 percent white, 83 percent Hispanic and 73 percent economically disadvantaged.
On the southeast side, DeZavela Elementary would be the most populated school with 598 students, including 12 percent white, 85 percent Hispanic and 71 percent economically disadvantaged. Travis Elementary would have 561 students, including 29 percent white, 63 percent Hispanic and 63 percent economically disadvantaged. Bowie Elementary School would have 591 students, including 17 percent white, 79 percent Hispanic and 69 percent economically disadvantaged.
The growth outlook in most of the attendance zones until 2012 is very light, with Travis, Crockett and DeZavela showing almost no change. However, Bowie is expected to grow from 591 students to about 680 in 2012. At that point, Bowie will be very near its capacity of 700.
Hernandez is expected to grow from 457 students to about 540 in 2012. At that point, Hernandez still will be well beneath its capacity of 800 students, and the other elementaries also will be well below their capacities.
Because of the improvements to Hernandez and its available space, the committee also proposed that the school district’s pre-kindergarten programs be moved there from Bonham Elementary. The additional 250 pre-K students at Hernandez would still leave it below capacity for the next few years.Email | Print