Parents wait in registration line at White Rock Elementary. (Photo by Paul Lewis)

Parents wait in registration line at White Rock Elementary. (Photo by Paul Lewis)

The Lake Highlands Reflector Committee will make recommendations for dealing with overcrowding by April 18.

Richardson ISD’s overcrowding issues are stirring up panic among parents. Take for example those who felt that waiting in long lines was the only way to enroll their children in White Rock Elementary (a process that should be simple and automatic provided your proof of residency is in order).

RISD has property at Walnut Hill and White Rock Trail under contract with plans tear down the existing offices and build a new elementary school using funds from a 2016 Bond. Although, that plan hasn’t been finalized—they may instead opt to build more classrooms onto WRE or find another site for a new school. Whatever the case, RISD acknowledges something must be done to alleviate overcrowding.

To that end, the district announced the formation of the Lake Highlands Reflector Committee, “established by RISD for parents, staff members, community members and students to research, discuss and recommend options to the RISD Board of Trustees for accommodating current and projected future enrollment growth in the Lake Highlands area.”

As stated in the announcement:

RISD is continuing to grow, with the elementary schools feeding into Lake Highlands High School experiencing the highest levels of growth in the district in recent years. The district has constructed 78 additional classrooms at 13 schools across RISD since 2012 to help accommodate increased enrollment, including 52 classrooms at nine schools in Lake Highlands. Despite the additional classrooms, a number of RISD elementary schools have reached capacity in different grade levels and are overflowing students out of their neighborhood school. RISD’s demographic projections call for continued moderate growth, and the RISD Board of Trustees has placed funds in the proposed 2016 bond package to create additional capacity in Lake Highlands and other areas of the district.

The committee—chaired by Dr. Jeannie Stone the district’s deputy superintendent of instruction—will meet regularly beginning in March. They are tasked with the goal of making formal recommendations to the RISD Board of Trustees by April 18.

The overcrowding issue is not new to RISD. Exhibit A, this 1995 Advocate article about “Solving RISD’s overcrowding problem.”

“During the past five years,” it reads, “the Richardson Independent School District has experienced burgeoning growth throughout the district. Although district officials have tried to keep pace, the rapid growth has led to overcrowding problems in three of our four high school areas. The need for space has, therefore, become a primary and urgent concern.”

Wow. It could have been written this week. In 1995, the district did basically the same thing it is doing today—“charged a 21-member committee to study issues relating to school use during the next 10 years. After extensive research and examination, the committee presented its recommendations to the board. Possible solutions determined by this group include constructing new buildings, transferring students, boundary adjustments, magnet schools, teaming of schools, program options, special needs programs, grade configuration changes, school-year length and school-day length adjustments.”

Back to 2016.

Parents and the rest of the community can check in on the committee’s progress on the LHRC page of the RISD website, which reads, “Summaries of committee activity will be posted on this page.”

Anyone with ideas for the committee can submit them to risd@risd.org.