Richardson ISD’s proposal to move White Rock (and Wallace) Elementary Kindergarten students to Northlake to alleviate overcrowding went over like a ton of bricks with parents. That was Tuesday. By Thursday afternoon, a committee of parents had a few ideas of their own, and they sat down with Superintendent Dr. Kay Waggoner to present them on behalf of the community.
The WRE Growth & Planning Committee, consisting of PTA President Keely Smith, Merilee Biancardi, Lynn Davenport, Shelby Eidson, Sarah Hefton, Bo Ragesdale, Jason Thomas and Cary Woodall, worked on four different possibilities and presented two options: (1) a pilot intermediate campus with 5th and 6th graders only or (2) a White Rock addition for Fine Arts/Technology/DP.
Above all, they said, they want Kindergarten students to stay on their WRE campus, they want particularly sensitive students in the DP/PPCD (Preschool Programs for Children with Disabilities) to stay put, and they want boundary lines (and home values) to remain the same.
Alternative One would alleviate crowding by pulling out 5th and 6th graders – a strategy which has been successful in Highland Park. The separate facility could hold students from several elementaries and would be built on existing RISD property.
Alternative Two would involve constructing a two-story building on the WRE site, which would minimize loss of greenspace on campus. Former art, music and DP rooms would become new classrooms, and the gym and cafeteria would be expanded.
The discussions resulted from RISD’s proposal at Tuesday’s 2016 Bond study session. After RISD’s ‘Bond Listening Tour’ in the fall, they found many in Lake Highlands more interested in solutions to overcrowding than new libraries or multipurpose practice facilities. And, even as they seek solutions, parents insist they want schools which are “not too big” and have a “neighborhood feel.”
“A significant portion of Tuesday’s study session was focused on WRE,” White Rock Valley Neighborhood Association President Richard Duge wrote to RISD trustees, “but in reality the issue is a bigger issue for LH. For the LHJH feeder pattern, 4 of 5 schools are projected to be above 600 students in 2016/17 and above 700 by 2020/21. Two are above 800 in 2016/17: Wallace at 871 and WRE at 955” and 91% of White Rock residents believe fewer than 800 students is optimal for an elementary.
RISD staff and trustees will confer at their regular board meeting Monday night at 6 p.m. at the administration building, 400 S. Greenville.
“I want to thank Dr. Waggoner for making time to come and walk through our community needs and concerns with us today,” wrote Smith in a letter to parents. “Thank you to everyone who has sent in emails and been active in helping to make our neighborhood school an amazing place for our kids to grow. The board is reading the emails and our ‘voice’ is being heard. I encourage all of you to attend the board meeting January 11th, where you can gather more information and continue to remain an informed member of the community.”