District Solidifies Elementary School Rezoning Plan

2020 opening of Michael M. Boone Elementary School forces district rezoning

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District Solidifies Elementary School Rezoning Plan

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The HPISD Board of Trustees voted to unanimously approve the new elementary school zoning boundaries earlier this month.

The recent addition of the Michael M. Boone Elementary School to HPISD led to the need for a revision of the previous school zoning map. The new map, which will not go into effect until the 2020-21 school year, is largely the same as the map that has been in use for the past several years, but the addition of a fifth elementary school causes all other zones to be somewhat smaller. University Park Elementary School is now closed-in by the four other schools. 

One of the main reasons for the way the new map is shaped is to promote student safety. The portions of the map are sectioned in such a way to reduce the risk of students having to cross major roads to get to school. Additionally, the committee was careful in balancing the number of children in each of the schools.

The redrawing of school boundaries will shift some students out of their current school and into a new one. However, the board has taken steps to mitigate the problems caused by this shift. As a solution, they have allowed incoming fourth graders to decide whether or not they want to make the switch. They did not, however, extend the choice to younger siblings of those fourth graders.

“They really want the students to get situated in their new schools and start developing some spirit around those schools where they are attending,” Chief of Staff Jon Dahlander said.

The rezoning development has been an ongoing community-led process which began in January. According to a Jan. 29 press release by HPISD, the first step in the rezoning process was to establish a committee whose purpose was recommending a new map to the HPISD Board of Trustees, who would then establish the new borders for the five elementary school zones. Each elementary school received equal representation on the committee, with non-parent committees having a say as well.

“[On the committee] we have eight parents or patrons,” Superintendent Dr. Thomas Trigg said. “This includes two from each of the [elementary schools], two former trustees, two citizens and then two active trustees.” 

For decades, there were only four elementary schools, but when overcrowding became a concern, a fifth school was added. Although the addition of a new school may only seem like a temporary fix to the overcrowding problem, the school district had the foresight to plan around the next several years of growth. 

“They are hopeful that given the capacity of each of the campuses and the predicted growth for the next few years that they won’t have to rezone in the near future,” said Lisa Wilson, Assistant Superintendent for Education Services. 

The current plans for the district will fix the concern of overcrowding for the foreseeable future, as the capacity of most of the schools are over 200 more than the projected enrollment numbers for the next few years. Armstrong Elementary School, the smallest of the elementary schools, has a capacity of over 100 more than projected enrollment for the coming years.

In addition to the zoning committee drawing up new attendance boundaries, a sub-committee spent months going over possible names for the new school. They eventually settled on Michael Boone, a notable local attorney and Highland Park alumni.

“He is the co-founder of a law firm called Haynes and Boone, and he served as the president of the school board for a number of years,” Dahlander said. “But more than that, he has really immersed himself in the area of Texas school finance and worked very closely with the governor, lieutenant governor and the state legislature to create what he thought to be a fair system for funding schools throughout the state of Texas.”

The school officially opens at the start of the 2020-21 school year. For more information on the 10-month rezoning process, visit the district website.

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