While Highland Park ISD is still more than a year away from operating five elementary schools for the first time in its history, the district is taking initial steps to re-draw its boundaries. The first step is seeking volunteers to serve on a committee to assist with the process and eventually recommend new boundaries to the HPISD Board of Trustees.
The district is creating a Boundary Rezoning Committee to include parents representing each elementary school, as well as community members and former trustees. The committee will work throughout the spring and early fall to recommend five elementary school boundaries, up from the existing four, to the full Board by October 2019. The new elementary school boundaries will go into effect in August 2020.
From February 1-18, 2019, the district will accept online applications from individuals interested in volunteering to serve as representatives for each of the elementary schools on the Boundary Rezoning Committee. In addition to the eight parents who will be selected to represent the district's four existing elementary schools, the committee will include:
- Three Current trustees - Paul Rowsey, Stacy Kelly and Tom Sharpe
- Two former trustees - selected by trustees
- Two community members - selected by trustees
Three HPISD administrators, Superintendent Dr. Tom Trigg, Assistant Superintendent for Business Services Mike White and Chief of Staff Jon Dahlander will serve as ex-officio members.
A board subcommittee made up of trustees Rowsey, Kelly and Sharpe as well as district administrators have been working for the last several months to begin the planning for the new attendance boundary process. Their work focused solely on creating the process that will be used. Understanding that there will be significant interest from the community about where the lines are eventually drawn, the trustees have committed to having a process that is as transparent as possible.
"Since every elementary school boundary is going to be impacted, we believe it is imperative that the community have an opportunity to volunteer to help redraw the boundaries, as well as observe the process and provide feedback," Paul Rowsey, who will serve as the facilitator for the committee, said. "We recognize that parents, students and residents will be watching closely and we want everyone to understand the rationale for decisions that will eventually be made."
The district is seeking individuals to serve on the Boundary Rezoning Committee who have a district-wide perspective and are analytical, data-oriented, level-headed and holistic. To avoid any potential conflicts of interest, only parents whose youngest child is currently in the second grade or older will be considered, since they will no longer be impacted by changes in district-wide elementary school boundaries. During the 2020-21 school year, fourth-grade students will be given the option of attending their current school or attending the new school to which they will be assigned as the result of the new school boundaries.
Following the February 18 deadline to receive applications, elementary campus teams consisting of each principal, PTA president, PTA president-elect and Dads Club president will review and recommend no more than four applicants from each school to serve on the committee. Eventually, two parents from each elementary school will be selected by trustees.
The committee will begin its work in April and will allow the public to observe all of its meetings. The district will provide regular updates on the committee's work and post its minutes online. In addition, throughout the process, community members will have the opportunity to provide input and feedback through an online form. The committee's charge will be to develop a comprehensive, district-wide boundary plan for five elementary schools (Armstrong, Bradfield, Hyer, University Park and the newest elementary school located at 8385 Durham) to recommend to the Board of Trustees for its consideration in October 2019.
"This is the first time since Hyer opened in 1948 that HPISD has had such an extensive undertaking, and we do not expect it to be easy," Rowsey said. "It is important for everyone to know that there are no preconceived ideas at this point on where these new boundary lines will be drawn but that we have developed a fair and open process to complete that task."