Mansfield High School’s attendance zone could expand to include more homes near downtown, according to a new map proposal.
High school attendance zones are being changed for the 2020 school year to relieve overcrowding at Lake Ridge High School. The district’s demographer originally presented two map options. On Thursday, the district unveiled a third option in response to complaints by parents that Legacy High School was the only school affected by the proposed rezoning.
Parents say an influx of students would propel Legacy into 6A athletic competition, at least until a sixth high school is built in the next decade. Under the third option, Mansfield High School would absorb some of Lake Ridge’s students by moving the current boundary on East Broad Street south to Heritage Parkway to include neighborhoods on either side of Walnut Creek Drive.
All three high school attendance map proposals can be found on the district’s website.
The Attendance Zone Review Committee had its third meeting Thursday night, debating the merits of various maps for elementary, intermediate, middle and high schools.
High school rezoning is often the most controversial and there’s no new high school in the latest bond package.
In 2020, the district will open Brenda Norwood Elementary School, Alma Martinez Intermediate School and Charlene McKinzey Middle School in the booming South Pointe development in the southeast corner of the city. The new maps assign students to those schools to handle the population surge in that area.
Parents in the Elizabeth Smith Elementary School attendance zone have strongly opposed the new intermediate and middle zones that send their students to Martinez and McKinzey. They want to continue to attend Mary Lillard Intermediate School and Danny Jones Middle School because they are closer to home.
The problem is, the district is building the new schools specifically to relieve Lillard and Jones. Shifting one part of the map causes a chain reaction causing other elementary schools to be split up, said Paul Cash, associate superintendent of facilities and operations.
“When you talk about Smith staying with Lillard and Jones, you potentially impact eight elementary schools when you start doing that,” Cash told parents at the committee meeting. “We absolutely understand the concerns that the parents had there.”
Also, the district has historically tried to keep students in a consistent feeder pattern wherever possible so students from one elementary school are all zoned to go the same intermediate and middle school zone, Cash said. This would break that tradition by chopping up other attendance zones.
Distance has been the biggest factor for the parents, who say the existing neighborhood schools are closer to home. Cash said he drove the area to test how long it takes to drive down National Parkway to the Texas 360 frontage road and into South Pointe.
“It’s tricky because there’s no roads that go to the schools there,” Cash said. “Many of the roads aren’t built yet in that area.”
Matlock Road and other streets within South Pointe will be extended or built in the next few years, making the commute easier by the time the schools open. Bus service will be offered for all students who live on the opposite side of a highway from the campuses, he added.
The demographer presented new enrollment projections for Legacy High School and Mansfield High School to correct an earlier discrepancy. Their numbers were off by about 150 students at Legacy and 100 at Mansfield high schools because they inadvertently counted students who actually attend Ben Barber Innovation Academy or the Phoenix Academy.
The 37-member attendance zone committee, which consists of parents from throughout the district, will have its final meeting April 9 at the administration office, 605 E. Broad St. They will discuss the pros and cons of all the map options. From there, the map recommendations will go to the superintendent’s executive council, which will make a recommendation to the school board.
The trustees will have the final say on the maps at the April 24 meeting. The maps will go into effect for the 2020-21 school year.
Historically, the district has offered exceptions for students at the top of each grade configuration. That means an incoming fourth-grader, sixth-grader, eighth-grader or junior and senior could be allowed to stay at their old campus. There could also be exceptions for siblings so they attend the same school, too.