Community worried about boundary changes, as Fort Bend ISD discusses facilities plan

By Betsy Dolan 

It didn’t take long for Fort Bend ISD Superintendent Charles Dupre to get to heart of the matter for the parents attending the March 18 community dialogue meeting at Austin High School.

“There are a lot of rumors going around”, he said. “This plan does not include any specific zone or boundary changes. This sets the stage for another community dialogue in the future”.

Yet parents, worried about what changes might be coming when the district begins talking about zoning and boundary changes next fall, started looking for answers in the proposed facilities master plan which was discussed during two recent community dialogue meetings.

The district tried to dispel rumors, stressing that no children will be changing schools next year and that no schools will be closing next year. But also emphasizing that the district needs a long range zoning plan.

“We don’t want neighborhoods going through six boundary changes in 10 years”, said Tracy Richter, with educational planning firm, DeJong Richter. “And we don’t want one elementary school feeding into three high schools. We have to stop doing that”.

Changing some of the things that have frustrated Fort Bend ISD parents over the last few years, won’t be a cheap fix. The proposed five-year facilities master plan has a $684M price tag, factoring in new school construction, additions and repairs to existing facilities. The district has talked openly about the need for a future bond referendum.

“This is a blueprint for how we will address future growth going forward”, Dupre said. “There has been a lot of work going on in this district for the last six months and a lot of people in the community have told us what they think. ”

Planning Area A, which is the northern part of the district and the area that has seen explosive growth, would get four new elementary schools and see 10-classroom additions at Oakland, Sequin, Holley, Oyster Creek and Cornerstone elementary schools.

Austin and Travis High Schools would get 250 seat additions.

Planning Area B would get a new elementary school in Riverstone; Palmer Elementary would get a 10 classroom addition; Sugar Mill and Townewest elementary schools would get six classroom additions. In addition, Lakeview Elementary would be renovated or re-purposed.

First Colony Middle School would get an 8-classroom addition and Elkins High School would get a 10 classroom addition.

Planning Area C would see three new elementary schools as well as 10 classroom additions at Scanlan Oaks, Schiff and Sienna Crossing elementary schools.

Lake Olympia Middle School would be re-purposed and two new middle schools would be built.

Parent reaction at the meetings and from the FBISD Concerns Facebook page was cautiously optimistic.

“As a resident that has faced multiple re-zonings, it is nice to hear true feeder patterns being planned from elementary all the way up to high school”, wrote one parent.

“We are playing a furious game of catch-up and when we are through, there will still be lots more needed to do to stay ahead of the future growth. It’s impossible to go back and do it over, so we have to figure out how to move ahead”, wrote another parent.

The proposed facilities master plan will be presented to the board next month.

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