Dad contests VISD's proposed attendance zone maps

Feb. 13, 2012 at 10:04 p.m.
Updated Feb. 12, 2012 at 8:13 p.m.

In the wake of a plan that could relocate 469 Victoria students to new schools, only a handful of parents came to a public meeting hosted by the district Monday night.

One dad, Kirby Garrett, said he thinks VISD's proposed attendance zone changes will most adversely affect a much smaller group of students - 21 middle schoolers who could move from Cade to Patti Welder Middle School under the new map.

"Are we concerned about the kids and their social network they made and disrupting that?" Garrett, 46, asked VISD administration. "I'm really concerned at the junior high level. Those kids have developed those friendships."

Diane Boyett, VISD's communications director, responded to the few parents who spoke out at the meeting. She said the district worked to avoid splitting up neighborhoods in an effort to maintain social networks. For example, under the new plan, the Tanglewood neighborhood comprising 217 students would move from Torres to Smith Elementary.

When the VISD school board in 2008 required the district to review attendance zones every two years to maintain smaller learning communities, it also allowed for fourth- and seventh-graders to be grandfathered from the move.

But Garrett's daughter is currently a sixth-grader at Cade Middle School. And the home his family has invested in for 15 years happens to fall into changes made to the Shields Elementary zone, which feeds into Cade, and Crain Elementary, which feeds into Patti Welder Middle School.

"When you change every two years, you're not letting people decide. They're not able to choose where they want their kid to go to school. When I bought my house, I knew my kids would go to Crain, and then at the time go to Victoria High," he said.

His younger kids - one who attends Dudley Magnet School and a 4-year-old - would also be affected by the map and possibly future ones, Garrett said.

By reviewing attendance zones every two years, Boyett said the district hopes to avoid making more drastic changes later. A lot of the changes, depend on where development occurs in Victoria, she added.

"We hope that we don't get into having to do this even every two years - where you have wholesale, large neighborhood changes," she said. "But you're looking at another possible apartment complex on John Stockbauer." She added that there will be ripple effects where development occurs.

Garrett emphasized he wasn't bashing the district or any particular school, but said he wished the district could allow students to establish their learning paths at the beginning of their education rather than move students or entire families around every two years.

Through its district-wide curriculum, VISD has done a tremendous job of allowing students in highly mobile families to succeed, Garrett said. "But what about those who are stable?"

"It's not an ideal situation, we do understand that, and we understand it's disruptive when you start moving children from one school to another," Boyett said. It's an "attempt to keep our schools a little bit more balanced and to be very cautious with the resources of the community."

The district encourages kids who are changing campuses to visit their new schools and attend the sneak peeks before the beginning of the school year.



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