The Highland Park ISD Board of Trustees approved an elementary school boundary rezoning plan during the Oct. 15 meeting after months of discussions.
The new attendance boundaries will take effect in the 2020-2021 school year when Michael M. Boone Elementary School opens as Highland Park ISD’s fifth elementary school. Students currently enrolled in the third grade will have the option of attending their current school or the new school to which they’re zoned.
Boundary Rezoning Committee chairman Paul Rowsey said the committee, which included parents and residents looked at factors like long-term viability, safety, travel time for students in developing the district-wide boundary plan.
“From the beginning we knew we are not going to be able to satisfy everyone’s preferences, but we are committed to do our work in an objective manner and truthfully, this is not an easy task,” Rowsey said.
He said the committee also attempted to evenly balance the number of K-4 students based on enrollment relative to building capacity and maintain as much continuity as possible with current attendance boundaries.
“We’re going to have five great schools,” Rowsey said.
Jennifer Melson attended the meeting and said she appreciates the boundary committee’s work to set the district up for long-term success but said the change will be hard for her family.
“I’d like to implore the board to look at the individual families affected,” she said. “I know that many if not all of you are parents and in your own processes of raising children, were forced to make a decision that was best for your individual child and your family. That’s been the hardest part of this rezoning process for me. I feel like I lost the ability to make the best decision for my individual children and my family,” Melson said. “Our family and other families in my similar situation agree that all the elementary schools are wonderful and we are incredibly blessed to be in a district with such excellent options… We can all agree that the needs of our individual students are varied, that families are struggling with the emotional implications of changing schools… The implications and anxieties for families can be great over the upcoming transition.”
She encouraged the board to revisit the grandfathering plan put in place in January.
“It’s possible to create a plan that will give families control back to make the best decisions for their individual children and family,” Melson said. “Adapting the current grandfathering plan to the outcome of the new school boundaries will simply allow for an extended transition that will not have long-term effects on the vitality of each school.”
David Hoffmann attended the meeting and said he fears the rezoning is separating students from their established communities and friends.
“For these 84 children that we’re talking about, this impact is tearing them away from their established community, it’s pulling them away from their friends, their teachers, the administration that they know. It’s not making them feel adjusted or part of a community,” Hoffmann said. “They’re being thrust into a new community alone without the support that their parents and they have built over the years.
“This type of change has negative consequences on children, negative emotional and social impact,” he said. “Some of them are equipped to handle the transition and some aren’t… You have the power to amend the… policy and, in so doing, give the decision back to those who are most qualified to make this decision for these children — their parents.”
To view the plan, click here.