Attendance Zone Development
As Dripping Springs ISD prepared for the opening of Cypress Springs Elementary, the process to develop new attendance zones began in the fall of 2020. Public meetings on attendance zones were held Feb. 1, March 2, and March 9, 2021. The meetings featured an overview of the process and timeline, sharing of board-approved parameters, demographic information and projected enrollments, a review of current boundaries, and various options of maps for future boundaries for both elementary and middle school students. Multiple committee meetings were held in February and March, and community feedback collected during the meeting and a Google survey were reviewed. Following the introduction of "starter maps," adjustments were made and subsequent options were shared, reviewed, and discussed.
In addition to the development of elementary attendance zones, middle school attendance zones/feeder patterns were discussed. Middle school feeder patterns were influenced by two challenging factors: 1) we now have an odd number of elementary schools and an even number of middle schools and 2) our middle schools have different capacities (Sycamore Springs Middle School has a capacity of 850 and Dripping Springs Middle School has a capacity of 1,200).
On March 22, a report on the process was provided to the DSISD Board of Trustees. Board members asked questions and requested more information, including the full demographic study that was presented on March 29, 2021. Originally, it was projected that the board would approve attendance zones at the March 29 meeting, but following discussion on March 22, it was determined that additional time to consider proposed recommendations would be beneficial so a special meeting was scheduled for April 12, 2021.
DSISD welcomed public input to support this process in several ways. Initital opportunitites included:
- A “Thought Exchange” collected preliminary input on desired priorities. Stakeholders were asked to comment on the question: “What do you think should be the most important consideration(s) in developing new attendance zones?”
- During community meetings, participants were allowed to ask questions or share comments.
- A Google form in English and Spanish collected opinions, suggestions and preferences regarding the process and the starter option maps.
- A second Google form was made available following introduction of adjusted map options.
A critical step in the attendance zone process is the analysis of current demographic studies for the district. The district contracted with PASA to conduct a comprehensive demographic study, including geo-coding of current students, studying recent gains and losses in student population, and the ratio of students per household for major subdivisions and apartments. While the comprehensive report was not available until the March board meeting, PASA agreed to provide a set of preliminary projections by the beginning of January.
The Administrative Attendance Zone Committee used demographic data and preliminary projections in the early stages of working through zoning scenarios. PASA anticipated that the final projections will differ from the preliminary projections minimally in the early years of the projection period and potentially more significantly in the later years of the decade. Thus, the bulk of the zoning discussion, pros and cons of each scenario, etc. was as relevant with the preliminary projections as the final projections.
ADMINISTRATIVE ATTENDANCE ZONE COMMITTEE
The Administrative Attendance Zone Committee, consisting of a representative group of campus and district personnel, developed rational and sustainable recommendations for school attendance zones. The committee was given the following charge and scope of work:
- Reviewed the latest Dripping Spring ISD demographic study and developed a recommendation for elementary school attendance zones to be presented no later than March 2021
- Ensured that the Board parameters and district goals were not compromised due to the attendance zone recommended adjustments
- Ensured the best interest of students is served in the development of attendance zones
The administrative committee consisted of: Brett Springston (Interim Superintendent), Shannon O'Connor (Board Member), Karen Kidd (Assistant Superintendent for Learning and Innovation), Cedric Menchion (Chief Financial Officer), Pam Swanks (Director of Transportation), Kellie Raymond (Dripping Springs Elementary/Cypress Springs Elementary Principal), Melinda Gardner (Walnut Springs Elementary Principal), Steve Novickas (Rooster Springs Elementary Principal), Kristen Ray (Sycamore Springs Elementary Principal/Director of Elementary Education), Clint Pruett (Director of Facilities and Construction), and Dale Whitaker (Executive Director of Communications).
ATTENDANCE ZONE PARAMETERS
On Oct. 26, the DSISD Board of Trustees approved the parameters for the development of attendance boundary zones:
- Optimize school facility usage to accommodate growth patterns throughout the district
- Avoid the need to redraw attendance zones until additional schools are brought online
- Design attendance zones that place students in schools in the closest possible geographic proximity of their residence.
- Avoid dividing sub-divisions when possible
- Utilize the following capacity amounts when planning schools: elementary 850
- Develop effective feeder patterns minimizing splits within elementary campuses
- Consider commuter patterns within the district when possible
- Minimize impacts on transportation when possible