Board Approves Simplified Choice Plan/Attendance Zone Maps
Board Meeting 8/18/14
Wichita Falls ISD board members voted 4-3 in Monday’s school board meeting to approve a new, simplified Choice Plan for WFISD students.
The approved policy pairs district schools with new attendance zones in the city, then allows students who want to attend a school outside their attendance zone to file an Opt-Out Choice Application to do so.
The simplified plan will begin with the 2015-2016 school year.
The new plan – Policy FDB (Local) ‑ streamlines the district’s Choice Plan by creating attendance zones that are matched to specific secondary schools. If a student entering seventh grade or ninth grade wants to attend a different school outside his attendance zone, he may make a choice to apply for a transfer.
Board members voted to approve the Intradistrict Transfers and Classroom Assignments Policy but to drop maximum enrollment caps at Wichita Falls High School and Rider High School from 1,550 to 1,500. They also lowered operating caps at both schools from 1,500 to 1,450.
Board members Elizabeth Yeager, the Rev. Reginald Blow, Dale Harvey and Trey Sralla voted to pass the revised plan that board members have studied and refined for the past year. Board members Bob Payton, Kevin Goldstein and Bill Franklin opposed it.
Superintendent John Frossard stressed the policy’s safeguard: If fewer than 90 percent of students who file a Choice Form to opt out of their attendance zone school are able to be placed in their chosen school because of enrollment caps, the policy requires the superintendent to notify the board. He must bring an agenda item for discussion at the next board meeting.
The new policy replaces a Choice Plan used for more than a decade that required every new seventh-grader and ninth-grader to select the school he wanted to attend. The plan was administratively cumbersome, prompting board members to look for a way to continue to offer students a choice, but simplify the process.
“My intent was never to recommend that we do away with parental choice,” said Frossard. “I haven’t seen too many districts that do it the way we do it. My intent was to simplify it.”
Mr. Payton motioned for a follow-up vote – seconded by Mr. Franklin ‑ to delay implementation of the new Choice Plan for one year as urged by several parents during the meeting’s Open Session. The motion failed in another 4-3 vote. Ms. Yeager, Rev. Blow, Mr. Harvey and Mr. Sralla opposed the delay. Mr. Payton, Mr. Goldstein and Mr. Franklin supported it.
Mr. Goldstein asked if the newly redrawn attendance zone map was officially part of the policy or if it needed to be voted on separately.
Board member Mr. Payton, who led the board committee that revised the Choice Policy, said the map was not part of the policy and should be voted on separately.
In a 6-0 vote, board members approved the newly drawn district map. Rev. Blow had left the meeting and was not in attendance for the vote.
The new attendance zone map of Wichita Falls divides the city into three secondary zones.
The McNiel/Rider zone generally encompasses the city’s southwest population. It is bounded to the north by the Wichita River. Its northeast boundary (and southern boundary of the Barwise/Wichita Falls High School zone) is the railroad that cuts north to south along the west edge of the Tanglewood neighborhood, then connects to Fairway as it runs south from Seymour Highway to Callfield. The boundary jogs east on Callfield to Taft, then extends up Cedar Elm to Grenada, east to Lake Park Drive, then west to Norman Street.
The Barwise/Wichita Falls High School zone outlines the central and southeast corner of the city. It is bounded to the north by the Wichita River as it runs east to Loop 11, east to 9th Street, and east to Highway 287. Its eastern boundary is the Wichita and Clay County line.
The Kirby/Hirschi zone serves the city’s north and northeast population. It has a north boundary of Puckett Road as it runs east, then angles southeast along the traditional WFISD boundary line, then follows the Wichita River out of town in the direction of Charlie, Byers and Dean. Its west boundary follows Interstate 44 south from Puckett Road, west on Airport Drive, south on Loop 11 to pass Kirby, then jogs onto North Beverly Drive. It extends to Northeast Drive, then back onto Loop 11 to 9th Street.
In other business, the district voted 5-0 with one abstention to finance the purchase of 44 acres on Gregg Road by using the excess fund balance in the Workers Compensation Enterprise Fund. Board members approved reclassifying the budgeted amount for workers compensation into Function 81 to enable the land purchase.