At Tuesday night’s called work session, Richardson ISD staff shared with trustees their plans to solve unrelenting growth at multiple elementary schools in Lake Highlands. The first phase had been discussed in previous meetings – to build a new school on White Rock Trail at Walnut Hill. The second phase was fresh – to build a new K-6 school in an area they termed “the Crescent” – the area boundaried by Abrams Road, Royal Lane and I-635.
“We are pursuing land acquisition now, and we could have a school open as soon as August of 2018, if everything aligned,” said RISD Superintendent of Finance Tony Harkleroad.
RISD already purchased the WRT land, and whether trustees opt to configure that school as K-6 or shape it as a 3-6 annex to White Rock Elementary, it will primarily solve overcrowding problems at WRE. The Crescent school, though, will be a solution for Aikin, Forest Lane Academy, Skyview, Stults Road and Wallace – all of which are projected to need 1-5 classrooms each in the next year or two. The next step: boundary changes.
“As we’ve worked on this issue, part of the challenge was coming up with solutions that didn’t change attendance boundaries,” said Harkleroad. “People say that they’re okay with that as long as it isn’t their boundary that is changed. We’ve looked at just about every option. Although this is going to be disruptive, it’s about the only solution.”
Trustees had praise for the plan to build two schools.
“We’ve tried to preserve boundaries and we have pushed that to its limits,” said Kris Oliver. “This is a systematic problem. It is unlikely we can implement one solution that affects just one school. We have a lot of moving parts here.”
“I know the angst that comes from the ‘B’ word – boundaries,” said Justin Bono. “We’ve looked at how we can do this without moving boundaries, but we always get to what’s the right thing to do for students. We see the growth in Lake Highlands. I’ve been advocating for building new schools for some time now, so I’m excited to build, possibly, two schools. Now we can get to the point where school size is much less of a concern.”
“This gives us a lot of options,” agreed Eron Linn. “This gets us to the point we’ve been trying to get to. Boundaries are just lines. We need to do what’s best for kids. People are coming, we can’t stop them. It’s our job to educate them the best we can.”
But what if there are no land parcels available to buy?
“Even though they’re not on the market, that doesn’t mean they can’t be bought,” said Harkleroad, who told trustees his team would be doing a full market analysis and bring more information to their work sessions June 13th and June 20th.
We’ll bring you more information if and when a site in “the Crescent” is chosen. The WRT school is expected to open in August of 2018.