Parents ask district to reopen zoning process
Parents who opposed an attendance zone package approved by the Cypress-Fairbanks school district board in January want the district to initiate a new process to allow the public to examine and comment on all options on the table.
That attendance zone package recommended by district officials, and approved by the board in a 5-to-2 vote, drew support from several subdivisions positioned near neighborhood schools, but was also opposed by a large group of residents living in the Barker-Cypress Road corridor.
We request that the board re-open the rezoning process," said Shana Littell, a Copper Lakes resident. I believe there was no transparency, and we are entitled to be fully informed."
Pam Wells, Cy-Fair ISD's associate superintendent of facilities, planning and community relations, said it would be difficult to re-open the process because it was important to have the board's rezoning decision no later than January. Numerous decisions that must be made before opening new campuses, and adjusting staffing at all campuses, hinged on that decision.
We do try very hard to engage as many residents in the rezoning process as we can," Wells said. We posted and updated information on the Web site, held public meetings, and welcomed and took into consideration public input and suggestions."
Ultimately, we had to make a recommendation that we believed was best for the entire district," she said. At no time was there any attempt by the administration to do anything but make the best recommendation possible."
The majority of residents who want to re-open the rezoning effort live in the Southcreek Village, Westcreek Village, Wheatstone Estates and Copper Lakes neighborhoods.
These neighborhoods were zoned to Copeland Elementary School, but were split under the new attendance zone plan.
Copper Lakes remains at Copeland and is joined by a section of that neighborhood north of West Road that attended Birkes Elementary. Westcreek Village will also remain at Copeland; but Wheatstone Estates and Southcreek were rezoned to Lowery Elementary.
The opposing residents
said the rezoning package that was approved, Option 5B", was not made available to the public in any format before the administration recommended it to the board at a Jan. 19 meeting.
They also said they were not able to analyze and comment on Option 4B," which was proposed at the same meeting and bore a close resemblance to an attendance zone plan that was supported by their group.
Littell said that documents requested from the district through the Texas Public Information Act after the Jan. 19 board meeting indicate that Option 4B was suggested by a board member a week before the final vote was taken. She said the district did not put information on the Web site about Option 5B until after the board vote was taken.
Wells said the district did provide information about five options considered by the board Options 1 through 5 and Option 5B" was a mirror of Option 5, except for one small change.
That change moved the section of Copper Lakes located north of West Road to Copeland instead of Postma.
Littell said since examining all of the options, the group supports Option 4B because that option would unite more groups; goes the furthest in relieving overcrowding in schools; keeps Lowery from becoming overcrowded; honors the commitment made by district officials in 2007 to rezone neighborhoods west of Barker Cypress from Copeland because that school could not accommodate that level of growth; creates permanent boundaries for schools east of Barker Cypress and ensures future enrollment stability for those schools; keeps Postma's enrollment low, which would allow that school to absorb future growth in neighborhoods west of Barker Cypress; and best follows middle school boundaries and feeder patterns.
They do not support 5B because it adds to the current number of elementary-to-middle-school feeder patterns; has the highest number of attendance totals for the affected schools; creates attendance zones for Postma, Copeland and Rennell that cover the east and west sides of Barker-Cypress Road; and does not provide any real relief for Copeland.
Canyon Lakes West
The Copeland group has been joined in their opposition by a group of parents in the Canyon Lakes West subdivision, which was rezoned from Warner Elementary to Postma Elementary under Option 5B.
I believe there has been a major breakdown in communication," said Jill McCall, a Canyon Lakes West resident. I do not understand why we were not notified of any option that would include our neighborhood in the rezoning process."
This was not a transparent process and it is unfair to move our neighborhood without any prior notice," McCall said.
McCall said Canyon Lakes West residents also want the board to re-open the boundary process and to put all options under consideration on the district's Web site for 30 days before the board takes a vote.
Wells said that Warner school officials distributed newsletters to parents that detailed the attendance boundary process, and the effect it could have on Canyon Lakes West.
We understand that parents want their children to continue to attend the school they are at, however that cannot happen in a district that is opening a new school," said Wells. We recommended Option 5B because it rezones the smallest number of students, and is the best in terms of our long-term (financial) outlook because it allows us to push back the opening of another elementary school by a year or two."
After Rennell and Emery are opened, the next elementary school, Elementary #53 on Cy-Fair ISD's multi-school site on FM 529, is not scheduled to open until the 2012-13 school year.
There is no perfect attendance boundary option, but we are dedicated to getting input from many different sources and making a collective decision," Wells said. We do listen to everyone."
The majority of the boundary changes approved in various attendance zone options 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.
On the Web
The original group of options that were considered and built upon during the process can be found at www.cfisd.net/boundary/elementary2010.htm.
The option approved by the board can be found at www.cfisd.net/boundary/opt5brec.pdf.
The Web site launched by the Copeland group www.keepusatcopeland.com will provide access to open records requested by that group and provided by the district.
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