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Fort Bend ISD rejects detachment petition

The Fort Bend ISD Board of Trustees held a public hearing Sept. 26 where it rejected a petition submitted by residents of the Diamond Bay section of Shadow Creek Ranch to leave the district.

The petition, received in April, requested that the board approve the detachment of the area from the district. A related petition was submitted to the Alvin Independent School District, requesting attachment to that district.

During the hearing, the FBISD administration outlined the statutory requirements regarding detachment and the considerations that were taken into account in its recommendation to disapprove the petition. According to the statute, the board “shall consider the educational interests of the current students residing or future students expected to reside in the affected territory and in the affected districts and the social, economic, and educational effects of the proposed boundary change.”

In its recommendation to disapprove the detachment, the district cited multiple economic and educational effects that would impact the district’s ability to serve all of its 74,000 students.

These negative economic effects of a boundary change include a loss of $21.3 million to the debt service fund over time, an initial loss of $3.9 million in property values in the first year and $15 million within a four-year span, and an annual loss of $453,000 in state per-student revenue. Based on these economic effects, the administration believes the detachment would result in significant budget cuts to the district’s overall spending, affecting students throughout the district.

After hearing presentations by the petitioners and the FBISD administration, as well as public comments, the FBISD Board of Trustees unanimously adopted a resolution that outlined its findings, including:

Detachment of the territory would have negative economic impacts on FBISD, including but not limited to a reduced ability to meet its debt service obligations and losses in state revenue attributable to lost taxable property and student attendance;

The negative economic impacts caused by detachment would limit the opportunities of current and future FBISD students;

FBISD schools in the feeder pattern of the territory have made steady improvements in performance in recent years, have capacity for more students, and the harmful economic effects that would be caused by detachment would negatively impact FBISD’s investment in programs and personnel that have contributed to the steady improvements.

“We are committed to raising student achievement at each school within Fort Bend ISD – including those that serve the students who live in the Village of Diamond Bay,” said Fort Bend ISD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Charles Dupre. “Moving forward, it is our hope that we can partner with the Shadow Creek Ranch community in order to help our students succeed. We are seeing positive strides at these schools, and it is important that we are able to continue our efforts to help each and every child succeed.”

Only a small portion of Shadow Creek Ranch is within Fort Bend ISD’s boundaries. Fort Bend ISD owns a 12-acre site within the master-planned community, which is currently valued at $5.2 million.

Following the Sept. 26 hearing, the Alvin ISD Board of Trustees will hold its own hearing to consider the petitioner’s request that the Village of Diamond Bay be annexed into AISD. If both districts disapprove the change, the decision cannot be appealed. If AISD approves the petitioner’s request, the petitioners or AISD could appeal FBISD’s decision to the Texas Education Commissioner.

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