Weatherford News

Growth at AISD spurs on transition, some concerned

With the residential developments occurring in the city of Aledo, families have already begun moving to the area, causing Aledo ISD to also grow drastically.

But while in the past the growth occurred mainly in the intermediate or secondary schools, now that increase in enrollment is coming to the elementary schools, which Superintendent Derek Citty said is a turning point for the school.

"It’s a prime indicator of the growth that’s coming," Citty said.

To keep up with that growth, the school board decided at their January 20 meeting to move the fifth graders to join the sixth graders at the McAnally Intermediate School, making the elementary schools kindergarten through fourth grade.

Shortly after Citty became superintendent last July, he had a study done predicting the growth in the school distract compared to each school’s maximum and functional capacity.

Already a couple of the elementary schools are beyond functional capacity – where schools have begun to use non-classroom settings because of limited space.

Meanwhile, McAnally is only using about 35 percent of their capacity.

"We’ve been talking about this for several months," Citty said of the move, which he sees as unavoidable. "At the end of the day, I don’t think we really have any choice."

The only other options would be to redraw lines for the schools or begin holding classes in portable buildings.

Over recent weeks, meetings were held with the community to explain the possible transition and answer any questions that might come up.

Citty said most issues raised could be put in three categories: emotional, logistical and academic.

Some parents expressed concern that the fifth graders would not be ready for the jump to intermediate school and moving from class to class. The move will also cause even further traffic issues and the science specialists from the elementary schools will likely move up with the fifth graders.

Citty said the ISD plans to have an architect look at the traffic issues to see if there is a way to create a loop or some other plan that will alleviate some of the congestion during the start and release times at McAnally.

"The McAnally traffic is bad on a good day right now," Citty said.

Resident and father Chris Taylor and school board member Bobby Rigues both expressed concern for the elementary students if all four science specialists move with the fifth graders.

But Citty said the elementary teachers over recent years have led in the labs with the science specialists and will be able to continue teaching that curriculum to the younger students. The labs and equipment would still be available to them and without the fifth graders they might have more time available to them in the labs.

Since the fifth graders are preparing for testing, Citty said it is important that they still get their scheduled three hours each week with the specialists.

While the plan will solve the issue of insufficient space temporarily, it will only delay it for a few more years as more growth likely comes.

At the meeting, the board also approved a committee to be made up of school members, parents, parents of former studentsas well as members of the community outside the school such as business owners and retirees. Their goal will be to create a 10-year plan that will look for long-term solutions.

With the decision, many new changes will come with the new school year in the fall as they make further decisions on start times and bus routes, but Citty said it will help the school prepare for the future.

"We harm no child in this move," Citty said. "At any point in time, if we found something that would harm a child or a group of children, we would have stopped the process."