Families of students on intradistrict transfer can expect more stability when the transfer window opens for the 2020–21 school year.
In their agenda review meeting on Feb. 20, the Leander ISD Board of Trustees discussed the process for the elementary schools rezoning for the 2021–22 school year; the student policy review; and the ongoing community conversations; which will expand to address diversity and equity on March 3 and March 9.
Previously approved transfer students will not need to re-apply when remaining at same campus
Students admitted into schools through an intradistrict transfer will no longer need to re-apply every year when remaining at the same campus, administrators reported to the Board prior to the opening of the transfer window running March 1–31.
Currently, the district requires re-application every year for transfers in elementary and middle school, subject to an approval process and a fee. Under the new process, families would apply for the transfer once per campus. If the transfer is accepted, it will be automatically approved for a student in good standing. If the previously approved student is changing campuses – from elementary to middle and middle to high school – they will need to apply and pay the application fee if their desired campus is different from their zoned campus. The district will continue to close transfer opportunities based on overcrowding and new school openings.
“It is so much stress… and to not have to do that to our families and to our kids is incredible,” Trustee Gloria Gonzales-Dholakia said. “We were approving the majority of them anyway, so let’s spend that time figuring out how to make it work.”
The district is making the change to create stability for students and to be more efficient with administrative resources. For the 2019–20 school year, 3,945 students transferred into their school as the district approved 97 percent of new transfer requests.
Community says school size, proximity top priorities for rezoning
Families and students preferred school size and proximity to be the driving factors for new elementary school attendance boundaries in 2021–2022, according to community feedback offered through a Thoughtexchange forum.
With nine elementary schools projected to exceed 120 percent enrollment capacity in the next five years and 1,300 new students enrolling in Leander ISD every year, the district needs to open new schools and relieve overcrowding.
But, there are lots of other factors, which often conflict, to be considered in redrawing school boundaries, including:
- proximity to the school (zone students to the closest school possible),
- minimizing change for students (i.e., the number of times a neighborhood is rezoned),
- aligning feeder patterns (keeping students together in the elementary to middle school transition), and
- maintaining balanced demographics in the school (maintaining a balance of various demographic groups in the school).
Leander ISD will open Elementary School No. 28, Nancy Tarvin Elementary School, in August 2021. This will be the second of three elementary schools approved by voters in the November 2017 bond election. The district will build the school in the Palmera Ridge subdivision in Leander, west of Ronald Reagan Boulevard and north of Hero Way.
The Board will now consider adopting parameters for the district to create scenarios for potential zoning maps during the Feb. 27 meeting. The district would then create and publish a scenario for community feedback starting in March. The plan is to have a new map in May 2020.
Community conversations expand to address Diversity and Equity
The district’s listening initiative that has already included four public meetings on student experience will expand to address issues of diversity and equity with meetings on March 3 at Henry Middle School and March 9 at Wiley Middle School. Both meetings will be at 6–8 p.m.
Two college professors with experience in leading conversations on equity and social justice will lead the community meetings, which are open to students, parents, staff, teachers, and community members. Cherie Dawson-Edwards, Ph.D., teaches at the University of Louisville in the Department of Criminal Justice and Bradley Carpenter, Ph.D. teaches at Baylor University in Educational Leadership.
The community conversations on Student Experience continue with meetings at Rouse High School for RHS and feeder schools on Feb. 24, 6–7:30 p.m. Glenn High School and feeder schools will be in the GHS cafeteria on March 2, 6–7:30 p.m. Families and staff in the Cedar Park, Leander and Vandegrift feeder schools can share their feedback online. The district will release the results of the Vista Ridge submissions on Feb. 26.
Policy review starts with students
The Board launched a comprehensive and extensive review of all policies, starting with Section F, the section for student policies. Review those proposed changes here.
“Policy review is a critical part of board work, as it provides guidance for the student experience,”Board President Trish Bode said. “I am thankful for the role and diligence of the board in providing this form of support to our staff who work tirelessly to engage and inspire Leander ISD students.”
Construction projects continue to roll
At the Feb. 27 meeting, the Board could approve:
- major maintenance projects for the next year and the 10-year plan;
- funding for security upgrades at Canyon Ridge, Four Points, Henry, Running Brushy, Stiles and Wiley middle schools, as well as Glenn, Rouse, LEO, and New Hope high schools; and
- HVAC update at Steiner Ranch Elementary School.