Rezoning proposal divides CFISD residents
Neighboring communities in Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District's northwest quadrant have taken opposite sides in a debate about changes to several elementary school attendance zones near the Barker-Cypress Road corridor.
Armed with numbers and shirts emblazoned with Vote Option 4," several residents lobbied for a proposed attendance zone option that the say achieves harmony among most neighborhoods in the Barker-Cypress area and goes further in meeting the school district's rezoning goals than the other five attendance zone options on the table.
An equally large, but less vocal, group said they opposed Option 4 because it rezoned subdivisions located behind Birkes Elementary School away from their home school.
The school district has not revealed a preferred option yet. The district is taking public comments on the six options until the board of trustees work session on Jan. 14, at which time the options will be discussed in-depth. The board could take a vote on the final attendance zone option at its Jan. 19 meeting.
The majority of the boundary changes are associated with the fall 2010 opening of two new elementary schools Emery Elementary School in the Plantation Lake subdivision east of Fry Road and north of Kieth Harrow and Rennell Elementary School in the Towne Lake subdivision at Greenhouse Road and Tuckerton Road in the district's western half.
The six options are labeled 2," 2a," 3," 3a," 4," and 5," and details about each can be found at www.cfisd.net/boundary/elementary2010.htm.
In support for Option 4, several residents singled out concerns about Option 5.
Option 5, they say, adds to the current number of elementary-to-middle-school feeder patterns; has the highest number of attendance totals for the affected schools; creates island areas" of separation for Postma Elementary pupils; creates attendance zones for Postma, Copeland and Rennell that cover the east and west sides of Barker-Cypress Road; and sends pupils who live very close to Andre Elementary more than five miles away to Postma.
Option 4 supporters
Howard Littell, a member of the group called CFISD Supporters of Option 4 and Copper Lakes resident, said several meetings were held in the community before and after Option 4 was developed.
While it is difficult to achieve 100 percent satisfaction with all parties involved, Littell said, that plan is supported by residents in several subdivisions, including Copper Lakes, South Creek, Wheatstone, Mallory Bridge, Lost Mill, Willow Fairway, Crimson Canyon, Bluff Springs, Aberdeen and some residents from Copper Village.
He said Option 4's elementary school boundary lines mirror middle school boundary lines, keeps neighborhoods together and facilitates transportation issues by establishing a north-south boundary line at Barker-Cypress Road that separates the areas of growth from the areas primarily built out."
Option 4 keeps students closer to elementary schools when compared to the other alternatives," Littell said. Option 4 best spreads out the student population, providing the lowest average attendance levels."
Option 4 also relieves Jowell Elementary School's crowding issues by sending 120 students to Postma, he said.
One tweak to the plan that would reduce Postma's student population, Littell said, involves sending 100 students in the Copper Lakes subdivision north of West Road to Copeland. Copper Lakes supports that measure, he said, because it would keep its neighborhood together.
Donna Lawrence, also a member of the CFISD Supporters of Option 4, said she questioned the rationality of Option 5. She said it seemed to be a direct response to an Oct. 8 board report that detailed fiscal constraints the district faces that have led to the delay of new school construction projects.
Since the district is not going to open any new elementary schools for many years, Option 5 seems to brace for this by keeping attendance levels low at Rennell and Postma," Lawrence said. That makes sense since most of growth will be to the west of Barker-Cypress, however, the methodology and sacrifices that Option 5 uses to get to those totals don't make sense."
Lawrence said the same goals could be accomplished in Option 4 by dropping the proposal to move 120 students in the Paddock subdivision to Postma and keep them at Jowell, which is present in Option 5; and moving the 100 students who live in the Reserve at Copper Lakes from Postma to Copeland so that they go to school with the rest of their community.
Option 4 clearly beats option 5 in every line item," Lawrence said.
Jean Skinner, a Wheatstone Estates resident, said she supported Option 4 with a minor modification.
She said her neighborhood off Barker-Cypress Road has built relationships with surrounding communities that are zoned to Copeland. Option 4, she said, would rezone Wheatstone Estates to Lowery, while Copper Creek students would move from Birkes Elementary to Copeland.
The parents in Wheatstone Estates prefer that our subdivision remained zoned to Copeland, and that Copper Creek be rezoned to Lowery," Skinner said. Less than half of the students would be impacted."
She said Wheatstone is physically closer to Copeland, and Copper Creek to Lowery.
Stacy Cook, Stonegate resident and Option 4 supporter, said she had concerns with three of Cy-Fair ISD's zoning options 2, 2a and 5 because of their negative effect on Birkes, Copeland, Rennell, Jowell, Postma and Lowery elementary schools, and surrounding communities.
Cook said these three options had the highest number of elementary-to-middle school feeder patterns; would subdivide the large Stonegate and Copper Lakes communities and transport some of their students west across Barker-Cypress; and do not take into consideration the eminent growth west of Barker-Cypress.
Option 4 opposed
A contingent of residents opposed to Option 4 presented a case against that rezoning plan.
Rick Grothues, a Copper Village resident and Option 4 opponent, said the neighborhoods behind Birkes Elementary, known as Birkes' Backyard," include Copper Village, Brookside Court and Copper Creek I and II.
We strongly oppose Option 4, which would rezone us from Birkes to Copeland," Grothues said. It removes the neighborhoods next to Birkes, and the very core of our community. We request that you consider all options, except for Option 4."
In addition to Birkes being the neighborhood school, two local municipal utility districts helped pay to construct sidewalks so that students could walk safely to Birkes and Aragon Middle School. Grothues said that keeping the neighborhoods zoned to Birkes would cost less for Cy-Fair ISD taxpayers.
Fewer miles means lower fuel and maintenance costs for buses," he said. Students also have the option of walking to school."
New option added
John Fourqurean, Cy-Fair ISD's senior director of planning, research and evaluation, said Option 5 was recently added to the mix to address rezoning needs at the middle school and high school level in the eastern half of the district; and to address future crowding at Warner, Postma and Rennell.
Fourqurean said the Cypress Creek High School feeder pattern has 250 more students than expected and the school needs relief. Option 5 would rezone about 200 students from Cypress Creek to Jersey Village and Cypress Ridge high schools.
He said that the proposal also calls for rezoning students from Bleyl to Campbell, and from Campbell to Cook middle schools.
I don't see any downside to doing this it would not impact any feeder systems and would equalize enrollments," Fourqurean said.
Board President John Ogletree asked why the district proposed to make these changes now.
The only reason why we are delaying making (middle and high school zones) changes in the western part of district is because of the new middle school that will open in Fairfield next year," Fourqurean said. If we don't do this now (in the eastern half), we would need to recommend something like this next year because of the growth at Cypress Creek."
Fourqurean said Option 5 also aims to reduce the too large student enrollment numbers at Warner, Postma and Rennell elementary schools. Those numbers are too high in the other options, he said.
Option 4 would look good for a year or two, but then we would be looking at additional boundary changes," he said.
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