Some Frisco ISD families will be looking at joining new schools next year thanks to a Monday vote by district board members to approve new attendance zoning modifications.
“There’s no doubt about it, this is the most challenging thing this board faces when we are confronted with these decisions to rebalance our schools,” Board Secretary Chad Rudy said before the vote.
The unanimous decision to approve the new zoning boundaries for high schools, middle schools and elementary schools comes after zoning maps for the 2022-23 school year were presented in mid October. Since then, parents and students have shared concerns with the district regarding the zoning impact on commutes, relationships and mental health.
Todd Fouche, the district’s deputy superintendent of business and operations, said Monday that the district had received 856 emails and phone calls about the rezoning over the past couple of weeks, many of them relating to rezoning that would move Reedy High School students to Lone Star or Frisco high schools. Fouche said 200 of the messages had been from people who didn’t want any change.
“One of the things we looked at really closely with this one is trying to get zones down major roads as much as we could so we weren’t drawing lines down alleys and neighborhood streets,” Fouche said.
He added that almost every alternative option involved forcing Pioneer Heritage Middle School to feed into three different high schools.
“That would kind of forever make Pioneer a difficult school for those eighth graders transitioning up into three different schools, and that was a big part of our decision making also,” Fouche said.
On Monday, over 20 parents and students addressed the board about the decision, including multiple who asked that current Reedy High School freshmen be allowed to stay at the high school.
Scott Warstler, FISD’s director of planning and business operations, said if this occurred, Reedy High School would become under a 6A University Interscholastic League classification, a designation the district is looking to avoid.
District Communication Facilitator Korinna Kirchhoff said in an Oct. 21 email that if an FISD high school moved to a 6A classification, students at that campus would compete with districts in schools that enroll several hundred or thousands more students.
“This would lead to significant inequities in opportunities for Frisco ISD students from campus to campus, something our community has long worked to avoid,” she said.
According to the district website, FISD’s high school campuses were designed to serve at most 2,100 students. If the district didn’t rezone, projections forecast that Reedy, Memorial and Lone Star high schools would surpass that limit next fall while Wakeland High School, which has seen a steady decline in students, would only have 2,002 students and would continue to see a decrease over time.
On Monday, Warstler told board members that the district had altered its proposed plan to include two changes, including that incoming 11-12 graders in the Stonewater Crossing, Villages of Creekwood and King’s Court neighborhoods will remain at Reedy High School while incoming 9-10 graders will go to Wakeland High School.
The other change moves only incoming ninth graders from Frisco High School to Wakeland High School rather than also moving incoming 10th graders.
The plan approved Monday also includes new exceptions that allow students with older siblings who are at a high school to opt to stay at the same school as their sibling. Warstler said doing so would mean committing to that high school through graduation.
“So what I’m hearing you say is that we’re not splitting siblings up,” Board President Renée Archambault said.
“I think this is the first time since I’ve been in this role that we are not splitting siblings,” Warstler said.
Warstler said incoming fifth graders will also be able to opt to stay with their original elementary schools. In addition, incoming eighth graders will be able to opt in to finish their last year at Pioneer Heritage Middle School rather than transferring to Cobb Middle School.
The new zoning maps come as the district gears up to open Panther Creek High School and Minett Elementary School in fall 2022, both in the district’s northwest sector. Frisco ISD has undergone 17 rezonings in the past 20 years as the district has opened 61 campuses and faced rapid growth.