LISD board approves rezoning maps (Updated)

The rezoning of boundaries for Flower Mound High School (FMHS) elementary and middle feeder schools was finalized at the Lewisville ISD (LISD) Board of Trustees meeting on Monday night.

The rezoning process began in October 2012 and ended with the elementary school boundaries receiving unanimous board approval, which the final middle school plan did not.

Approval of the elementary school Modification 2 rezoning proposal was the version presented at the March 28 board workshop. Its focus was attempting to maintain “neighborhood” schools and had a mostly positive reaction.

Students living in the neighborhoods encircling Vickery Elementary (VES), however, will be rezoned to attend Forest Vista Elementary (FVES), which is not in walking distance. Currently, those VES students are split for middle school with the classmates who live in Lewisville, but attend VES in Flower Mound.

Also, changing are the boundaries for students living south of Wichita Trail between Simmons and the creek west of Shoreline Drive who will attend Old Settler’s Elementary (OSE), rather than Wellington Elementary (WES), as they do currently.

The corresponding Modification 6 middle school plan presented at that workshop was the first proposal to impact the northwest section of the town and it resulted in almost 40 negative responses from speakers at the April 8 board meeting.

Every speaker living in the far west neighborhoods and having children attending Liberty Elementary School (LES) and/or McKamy Middle School (MMS), who are targeted to be bussed across town to Shadow Ridge Middle School (SRMS), was concerned about the lack of opportunity to respond to the new proposal.

“This plan was just sprung on us without adequate time to review it,” said Tim Wood. “This is the first time that it [rezoning] includes the far west of Flower Mound and Liberty.”

Previous rezoning proposals were presented at public meetings with an opportunity for public discussion. The March 28 workshop results didn’t include public input.

Additional top concerns voiced involved: the travel time bussing middle school students from the far northwest side to the far southeast side of town; the health issues related to the extended time spent on buses without air conditioning; and, the safety of bus riders during the pending construction on FM 1171 from Shiloh Road westward.

“Our students already have a 45-minute commute [to McKamy],” said Mark LaCasse, an LES parent. “If they have to go to Shadow Ridge, it’s safe to say it will be over an hour. The commute will be unbelievable. Either let them stay at McKamy, or even Downing, which is even closer”

Related parental concerns for the family that a later arrival at home would impact were: increased bullying possibilities; after school activities; homework time; equal elective opportunities at every school; and, transportation scheduling of children attending more than one school.

Another parent, who is a veterinary pathologist, asked board members to consider the health risks students will be subjected to riding busses during the peak months of Texas heat.

“We don’t recommend putting pets in hot cars or the elderly, why would we put our children in an un-air conditioned bus for an hour … twice a day,” she said. “Even if they don’t collapse with heat stroke, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t had an impact on the body.”

While most speakers addressed the physical impact of rezoning, a member of the parent FMHS Rezoning Committee reminded board members of the emotional impact that splitting an elementary class between two middle schools could have.

“When we started this [rezoning] process, one of the goals we were given was to keep from splitting elementary students for middle school,” said LES committee representative Dana O’Neal. “Middle school is a difficult time for a kid’s self esteem and social skills. It can be brutal and it’s not the time to split them from their friends.”

Most people attending the meeting nodded in agreement, including the board members.

“The [boundary] committee said they didn’t want to split an elementary school, and that’s what this proposal does,” said board member Kathy Duke referring to the March 28 proposal. “This is a hard time for those students when they’re going to different schools. And it’s hard on the parents.”

While the public speakers and board members focused on the middle school split for LES students, no one addressed the fact that the students living south of Wichita Trail who have been attending Wellington, but will be rezoned to OSE, will also be attending SRMS, while their classmates living north of Wichita Trail will attend McKamy.

Therefore, two elementary schools will be split for middle school, and elementary students who can see and walk to the elementary school located in the center of their neighborhoods will not attend that school.

Duke and Board President Carol Kyer proposed approving the middle school plan presented on February 27, which didn’t split LES between MHS and SRMS. It did, however, have students from four MMS neighborhoods– Churchill Crossing, Lakeview Estates, Lake Forest II North and Adams Estates– attending SRMS.

Board member Trisha Sheffield said the board had made some missteps by not honoring the original commitment, but became too focused on attendance numbers.

“I simply can’t support bussing ‘corridor’ kids who can see a middle school they can’t attend,” said board member Mike McDaniel.

No one spoke about the same situation for the Flower Mound elementary students living around Vickery.

“We started the rezoning process for several reasons,” said board member Brenda Latham. “First was concern over Forestwood’s shrinking numbers which isn’t right for either the students or the teachers. If there aren’t enough students to warrant electives, then they don’t have the same opportunities that students at other schools have and that’s not fair.”

She added that not addressing the teacher concerns about MHS over crowding is also unfair.

“I agree with Mike [McDaniel] and am against paying $30,000 per bus to send ‘corridor’ kids to Shadow Ridge, when they’d rather walk,” said Latham. “We also need to consider the changes made to the Lakeside development and the attendance increase to Shadow Ridge.”

The final middle school boundary map has an east-west (latitudinal) alignment. The rezoning will split both LEF and OSE students between MMS and SRMS.

The LES students living south of Wichita Trail between Rocky Point Road on the west and the creek located east of Peninsula Drive will attend SRMS—a smaller population than proposed in the March 28 version. Also attending SRMS are the current WES students rezoned for OSE.

Board member Brenda Latham, who along with Trisha Sheffield, Julie Foughty and Mike McDaniel voted for the middle school plan, said it takes care of the core issues facing the board when the process began.

Duke, who– with Kyer– voted against approving the adjusted middle school proposal, said she didn’t support splitting Liberty.

To help lessen the rezoning impact, the board voted to extend grandfathering for fifth- and sixth-graders and their siblings for the students attending current school boundaries. Fourth- and seventh-graders are already allowed to be grandfathered.

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