Discussions about how middle schools are aligned with high schools in the Grapevine-Colleyville school district are causing an uproar among concerned parents.
Many of those parents are expected to attend a school board workshop focusing on the district’s Feeder Pattern Task Force, scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the district headquarters, before a regularly scheduled board meeting.
The board has decided against implementing any changes for the 2015-16 school year, but the issue has still led to a firestorm of comments through social media, including a FaceBook page — Stop GCISD Proposed Feeder Pattern Changes ! — that has garnered hundreds of followers.
Two of the district’s four middle schools split their attendance between Grapevine and Colleyville Heritage high schools. The Feeder Pattern Task Force is exploring the possibility of creating a “pure feeder school system” in which each of the district’s four middle schools would feed directly into a high school.
Among those who plan to be at Thursday’s meeting is Marcie Frazier, the mother of fourth-grade twins who attend O.C. Taylor Elementary School in Colleyville. Frazier said she believes sports and extracurricular activities, not “academic” reasons, are the catalyst for the issue.
In football, for example, feeder schools aligned with one high school allow coaches to begin teaching their offensive and defensive systems to student-athletes in the seventh grade.
“It’s all about football,” Frazier said. “The coaches want a pure feeder plan.”
School officials vehemently deny those and other accusations that support the idea that one high school is being favored over the other.
‘An emotional issue’
When school officials broached the subject last year — with plans to possibly implement a change for the 2015-16 school year — they were met by a backlash of unhappy and angry parents.
“It’s an emotional issue,” Superintendent Robin Ryan said Tuesday. “People love their schools.”
He said that last year trustees had considered discussing the issue at this Thursday’s board meeting, but he explained Tuesday that “Jan. 29 was simply a benchmark if there was a consensus on the plan” that could have been implemented the following year.
But Ryan said that after listening to the task force and the public who attended several meetings where concerns were addressed, the decision was made to not make any changes for the coming school year.
“We are continuing to explore our options,” he said, but “we will not take any action.”
The task force, which is primarily made up of parents and includes representatives from all schools in the district, first identified reasons to consider creating pure feeder patterns. The majority of reasons the task force identified surround academics and school culture, school officials said.
Those include building stronger relationships between students and teachers; improving vertical alignment of instructional material and extracurricular activities from elementary to high school; building a greater sense of community; building student leadership in middle schools that grow into high school; creating a better transition from eighth to ninth grade; and maintaining parent networks when their child’s middle school feeds into one high school.
Ryan said that the task force will continue to meet regularly and if some proposals are agreed upon, the public will be given plenty of opportunity to ask questions, provide input and receive feedback.
‘If it ain’t broke ...’
Parent Todd Powell is among those who are skeptical about the district’s motives.
“I don’t want my taxes going up because they’re busing kids all around the city,” said Powell, the father of a ninth-grader at Colleyville Heritage and a fifth-grader at O.C. Taylor. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Another concerned parent is Roger Lee, who has a seventh-grader at Colleyville Middle School.
“I think this is completely football-driven,” said Lee, who said his family bought a home in the area that feeds into Colleyville Heritage because he was impressed by the school and “one hundred percent” wants his daughter to go there.
“The coaches know to keep your job you’ve got to win,” Lee said.
Grapevine, which completes in Class 5A, finished 3-8 this season and Heritage, which competes in Class 6A, finished 5-6. Both schools lost in the first round of state playoffs.
A large crowd is expected at Thursday’s task force meeting. Nearly 100 parents went to an elementary school in November to meet with Ryan about the task force.
“It was a good meeting,” Ryan said. “I was there to listen and respond to them.”
Parents said then, as they do now, that they were worried that they would not know which school their children would attend.
Ryan said the task force will continue to meet to determine whether any changes should be made to the feeder system or whether the current structure should be retained.
“Whatever they decide, that’s OK,” Ryan said, adding that information on the task force is available on the GCISD website and includes topics such as “frequently asked questions.”
Marty Sabota, 817-390-7367
If you go
A Grapevine-Colleyville school board workshop to discuss the Feeder Pattern Task Force meeting is at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in the board room of the school district administration building, 3051 Ira E Woods Ave., Grapevine.
Current feeder pattern
The district has four middle schools that send students to two high schools. The system works this way:
Grapevine Middle School: Feeds both Grapevine High School and Colleyville Heritage High School.
Colleyville Middle School: Feeds both high schools.
Cross Timbers Middle School: All students feed into Grapevine.
Heritage Middle School: All students feed into Colleyville Heritage.