The Mansfield school board took the first step in rezoning to relieve overcrowding in secondary schools on the east side of the district, but decided to weigh staff recommendations before deciding when to put the new plan in place.
At the March 25 school board meeting, trustees voted 6-0 to redraw the boundaries for Timberview and Lake Ridge high schools, Danny Jones and James Coble middle schools and Mary Lillard and Della Icenhower intermediate schools. The change was in response to overcrowding at Lillard Intermediate, which currently has 1,024 students in a school built for 1,000. Lillard feeds into Jones Middle School, which is also close to capacity with 989 students in a building meant for 1,000.
The move will send neighborhoods in the northern part of the current Lillard/Jones attendance zone to Icenhower and Coble, which currently have 620 and 684 students, respectively, in schools also built to hold 1,000 students. The new boundaries will also move students in the Lake Parks neighborhood from Lake Ridge High School to Timberview.
Several Lake Parks residents voiced concern over the change.
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“I am very frustrated with this process,” said Latrice Hayes, who lives in the Grand Prairie neighborhood. “We’re battling Mansfield ISD over where our children should attend school. I think our community has just had enough. No kid should be faced with leaving friends and transitions every other year.”
The Lake Parks neighborhood was also affected by last year’s rezoning to relieve overcrowding at Anna May Daulton Elementary School.
“I pulled my students because I was so frustrated with the rezoning issue,” said Jessica Cunningham, who lives in the neighborhood.
Other parents asked trustees to consider how difficult it is socially and emotionally for students to change schools.
Darrell Sneed, associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction, worked with an attendance zone committee made up of parents throughout the district. He said the committee’s recommendation was to wait until the 2015-2016 school year to put the new zones into place and to allow current high school students to stay in their schools until they graduated.
Portables would be needed at Lillard Intermediate, Sneed said, as the school is expected to gain another 50 students in 2014-2015, putting it at 107 percent capacity.
Jody Coker, who has a fifth-grader at Lillard Intermediate, questioned why the school district would wait when her child’s school is already overcrowded. So did trustee Terry Moore.
“Delaying another year is going to make it more overcrowded,” Moore said. “The board made it known they weren’t interested in portables.”
The proposed delay was in response to comments from parents, Sneed said.
“We have to give the parents time to get options for transfers,” he said. “Parents need to be informed. We have to look at transportation and staffing issues.”
Deadline for transfer requests is April 1. Trustees voted to call a meeting in early April to give the district’s executive council a chance to make a recommendation on when to put the changes into effect.
“I’m glad they reconsidered,” said Coker, who lives in the Lowe’s Farm neighborhood. “I’m very sympathetic to the other families. I would hope they would be grandfathered in or allowed to stay (in their current schools).”