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HISD school board to consider plan to reduce classroom overcrowding

The Houston Independent School District is working to readjust attendance boundaries at almost two dozen schools in an effort to reduce classroom overcrowding.

The move is in response to a directive from the Texas Education Agency, which requires kindergarten through fourth-grade classes to have no more than 22 students per classroom. Classes that exceed that number must request a state waiver.

This school year, HISD had to submit nearly 1,500 class-size waiver requests to the state education agency. District officials aim to cut that number in half for the 2015-2016 school year, with plans to continue the decrease incrementally through 2019.

"This is a mandate from the Texas Education Agency," said HISD Superintendent Dr. Terry Grier. "We're methodically analyzing class sizes, enrollment trends and future housing growth as we prepare for changes that could impact our schools."

The proposal to adjust attendance boundaries at 22 schools was submitted to the Board of Education for discussion during a Thursday morning workshop. A series of public feedback meetings will be held in the coming weeks in communities grappling with classroom overcrowding problems.

The district's goal is to alleviate overcrowding, while still maintaining the traditional demographic makeup of each affected school. District officials also are proposing some policy revisions including adding an extra layer of scrutiny to the waiver review process, eliminating waivers for district charter schools and capping the number of transfer students that schools may accept from outside their attendance boundaries.

Trustees are expected to vote on the plan in March.

The following 22 schools have been identified for possible boundary adjustments because they are either overcrowded or have space for students currently living within the attendance boundaries of neighboring overcrowded schools. They include Anderson, Ashford, Askew, Bastian, Burbank, Bush, Daily, Emerson, Highland Heights, Kelso, Love, Lyons, Memorial, Northline, Shadowbriar, Sinclair, Smith, Stevens, Tinsley, Walnut Bend and Young elementary schools and Halpin Early Childhood Center.

Other schools that are overcrowded but don't have surrounding campuses with available space could see programmatic changes or portable buildings installed to address the issue.

Informational community meetings designed to provide additional details on the proposals and gather feedback from parents will be held during the coming weeks. Parents at affected schools will be notified directly once dates and locations for those meetings have been set.