Zoning Q & A
How does MISD determine boundaries?
Building for MISD’s unprecedented growth requires a blueprint of its own. It requires both long-term and short-term planning and balanced, responsible management of time, finances and resources. MISD has developed a number of decision-making processes to manage rezoning issues.
Using professional demographers to monitor growth in neighborhoods, new construction and population trends, below outlines areas for consideration when developing school zones:
- Capacity – In MISD, elementary schools are built to accommodate:
- 750 students in grades kindergarten through fifth grade
- 1,000 students middle schools in grades sixth-eighth\
- 2,400 students in high schools in grades ninth-12th grade (our high schools with all phases built are designed to hold 2,400 students, but may open with fewer students)
- Stability – MISD looks at zones that can stay in place for the longest period of time - minimizing disruption to the least number of students possible. Due to rapid growth and high numbers of students, some areas may experience zoning changes frequently. However, MISD does have a policy giving choices incoming fifth graders, incoming eighth graders and high school seniors to minimize change as much as possible.
- Effective utilization of space – MISD strives to provide schools that can offer well-rounded programs and opportunities, while maintaining room for growth and not leaving other schools overcrowded or underutilized for an extended period of time.
- Proximity – MISD’s ultimate goal is for all students to attend the school closer to their neighborhood. However, in order to effectively and efficiently utilize space, that is not always possible. This is particularly the case in areas where MISD has schools in close proximity to one another. More than one school can become a consideration for a neighborhood or area due to location. This means that during the process of rezoning and addressing growth, students may be rezoned to an existing school or one that may not be the closest to them in proximity.
- Community – MISD knows that schools are the heartbeat of our community that create connections for children and families. We are sensitive to this important dynamic and are committed to providing equitable experiences throughout MISD, which allows for a smoother transition when change occurs. The curriculum is the same throughout MISD, the programs are consistent, and when a new school opens, at least one third of the staff will be veteran MISD teachers and staff. While MISD continues to consider future feeder patterns, the growth makes it increasingly difficult to have whole elementary schools feeding a particular middle school and then a particular high school.
Who makes the final decisions and how are they made?
Ultimately, our zones are approved by the Board of Trustees. District administrators research best options using the following data:
- Growth patterns
- Enrollment projections
- Neighborhood developments and number of current and projected students in each development
- Land barriers including water, highways, streets to assist in making a more natural boundary
- Transportation opportunities and challenges for school buses
- Community, parent and staff input
Based on the myriad sources of data, a recommendation is made to the Board of Trustees.
How can I give input on the boundaries?
MISD believes in open and transparent communication. As part of this strongly held belief, the district offers a variety of ways including:
- Boundary input online form
- Informational meetings
Will schools split up when new boundaries are developed?
It is not the most desirable situation, but in a fast-growth area while trying to balance enrollments at schools, it is sometimes the case that students of one attendance zone at the elementary level may be assigned to different middle schools. Likewise, students at a middle school are sometimes assigned to different high schools. Perfect feeder patterns are not possible at this time due to growth patterns.
Will my student be rezoned again?
MISD will continue to open schools to meet the needs of growth, which does not guarantee that your student will not experience another zoning change. While our district tries to prevent multiple changes, unfortunately it could happen.
Can the district make all parents happy when making zoning changes?
In MISD, we strive to provide the best customer service to our students, parents and staff. However, zoning can be an emotional experience for our community. In each zoning change, we listen to the concerns of our parents and students and do our best to alleviate them. We may not make every parent happy, but we can guarantee that your student is a top priority no matter which school they attend.
When schools are opened, do they fully open with all grades and all programs?
When we open elementary and middle schools, every grade is offered. When the district opens a new high school, traditionally we open with one or two grade levels and then as each grade level rolls up, the high school will house freshman through senior classes in two to three years, depending on the number of grade levels offered when the campus opens.
Our elementary schools all offer special programs including choir, physical education, library rotations and much more based on the school community. Our middle schools do provide some unique and specialized programs that may be different from one campus to another, such as jazz band depending on the school community.
Our high schools all offer the same courses including athletics and fine arts.
If my child wants to stay at the same school, is there a process?
A student who will be entering the highest grade level for that campus in the next school year may request to stay at the same campus attended the previous year. Any younger sibling of the student granted an intradistrict transfer shall be permitted to remain at the same campus for one year only. For purposes of this transfer, the written request must be submitted by the annual deadline set by administration to be effective for the following year.
What are the district’s standard size for elementary, middle and high schools?
To provide the optimal learning environment for elementary, middle and high schools, below outlines the district’s maximum capacity for each school. However, some capacities may be modified due to special education, English Language Learners, and other speciality programs.
- Elementary - 750 capacity
- Middle School - 1,000 capacity
- High School - 2,400 capacity (after all high school phases have been completed)
I heard the middle school boundary recommendation was developed by a community committee. How was the committee members selected?
Beginning in August, the district sought community members to nominate a peer or opt to serve. The 21 committee members were selected through a lottery process.
When do the middle school boundaries go into effect?
The new middle school boundaries are effective for the 2020-21 school year. However, students who will be in eight-grade during the 2020-21 school year may opt to remain at their current campus.
Why a third middle school? When was it decided that the district needed a third middle school?
During the Bond 2016 informational campaign, the district communicated the need for additional campuses due to rapid growth including new elementary schools and one middle school. Based on student enrollment, the district was proactive in recognizing that a new middle school must open in the fall 2020.
How will I know if the middle school boundary will impact my child?
The district will send communication to middle school parents affected by the new boundaries. All 2020-21 eighth-grade parents will receive notification along with how to exercise the option to remain at the current middle school campus for the child’s eight-grade year.
How can I give my voice to the middle school boundaries?
We will have three come-and-go community meetings where you can speak directly to a zoning committee member to learn more about the boundaries and ask any questions. The times are listed below.
L.A. Mills Administration Building - 100 Walter Stephenson Rd.
- Monday, October 28, 5:30 - 7:00 p.m.
- Tuesday, October 29, 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
- Tuesday, October 29, 5:30 - 7:00 p.m.
If you are unable to make it to one of these meetings, please feel free to email email@example.com by November 1. Our zoning committee will take all feedback into consideration before making their final recommendation to the School Board.
What is the timeline for this process?
Our zoning committee began meeting weekly in September to discuss the middle school boundaries. On Monday, October 21, they will present their first draft of the new boundaries to the School Board at the regularly scheduled meeting. We are then holding meetings on October 28 and 29 to gather input from our community, and the committee will make a final recommendation to the School Board on Monday, November 18. We expect the Board to take final action at the December 16 meeting, and we will communicate important information and next steps to all impacted families shortly afterward.
- Capacity – In MISD, elementary schools are built to accommodate: