ARLINGTON — About 600 students will be affected when the attendance boundaries of seven east Arlington elementary schools change for the 2014-15 school year.Because of overcrowding, some children who now attend Berry, Crow, Thornton and Roark elementary schools will be assigned to Blanton, Knox or Rankin elementaries, administrators said.All seven east Arlington schools are 10 percent over capacity on average, but schools such as Roark are 151 students over capacity, or 24 percent above the limit. Blanton, Knox and Rankin will get additional classrooms and other renovations to make room for 200 extra students each. Superintendent Marcelo Cavazos said the changes are intended to relieve the overcrowding.School district officials recently formed a committee of the seven principals of the affected schools, who then chose four community members. Michael Hill, assistant superintendent of administration, will lead the committee, district spokeswoman Leslie Johnston said. The committee recently held its first meeting to review the problems and draft boundaries for the new zones. Parents should expect letters with preliminary maps and dates for informational forums as soon as Oct. 4. “One of the components includes changing boundaries as we add space at three elementaries, even out the student population and maximize use of our space,” Cavazos said. “These three schools will be able to house most of our students.”The estimated cost of the additions at three schools is $16.8 million, which will come from surplus 1999 and 2009 bond funds and from the general fund.Johnston said students will be assigned to schools based on educational needs, transportation costs, distance from their homes and other factors. Exceptions will be made for students who enter the sixth grade in the 2014-15 academic year as well as their siblings.Transfer students from the 2013-14 school year will also be allowed to stay at their current schools. All seven elementaries will be closed to new transfers during 2014-15. Knox Elementary will add 10 classrooms that will be remodeled in existing space, while Blanton and Rankin will receive 10 extra classrooms each and get enlarged cafeterias, kitchens and libraries. Rankin Principal Raul Espinosa said he is especially excited that sixth-graders won’t have to use temporary buildings anymore. “I have sixth-graders, which use the biggest desks and chairs, in temporaries. And just the fact that they’ll be able to come into a regular classroom in the main building will be a plus,” Espinosa said. Some teachers may be reassigned from schools that lose students to schools that gain them, Johnston said. The district is buying land east of Texas 360 for an elementary school scheduled to open in 2015, and an elementary school is set to open on the Workman Junior High campus in 2016 — both with 900-student capacities. James and Barbara Adams Elementary School opened to 800 students Aug. 26 as part of the overcrowding relief. Nearby Atherton and Johns elementaries benefited from having some of their students transfer to the new school, the district’s first two-story elementary. Boundaries were adjusted for students to attend Adams, Cavazos said. The boundary committee is expected to present its recommendations to trustees for a Nov. 7 vote. This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.
Monica S. Nagy, 817-390-7792 Twitter:@MonicaNagyFWST