HOUSTON – The Fort Bend Independent School District board meeting and overflow area were packed Monday night ahead of a discussion on rezoning the district that could affect thousands of students starting next school year.
The district did not have an exact number, but a spokesperson said between 1,000 to 2,000 students will likely be affected by new zoning, which would start taking effect in the fall of the 2019-2020 school year.
“People may not like our decision, but they’re going to know how we got there and why we’re doing what we said we’re going to do,” FBISD Superintendent Charles Dupre told KPRC before the meeting.
The district began planning for zoning changes nearly one year ago, Dupre said. The population there has exploded recently and some schools are overcrowded now or will be in the near future.
Since last spring, community meetings have been held, new schools have been planned, focus groups made up of community members have been organized and community surveys have been conducted, Dupre said.
An FBISD bond worth $1 billion, to build a new high school and elementary school, among many other things, was approved by voters in November.
The community survey spelling out four rezoning options was made available to anyone within FBISD over the winter break. More than 5,600 people responded to the high school zoning surveys, and more than 3,400 responded to the elementary school zoning surveys, the district said.
The plan was to vote on elementary school rezoning in January and on high school rezoning in February. But Friday night, the district sent an email to FBISD parents to tell them the high school and elementary school rezoning would be discussed at Monday night’s meeting and voted on during the Jan. 22 school board meeting.
Many parents told KPRC they were upset by the late notice and the district recommendations.
“Once we completed the (review of the surveys and community meetings), the decision is pretty easy, based on the feedback,” the superintendent told KPRC before the meeting. Many survey responders preferred option two, he said.
“We visited with the board president and we agreed to go ahead and get it on the board’s radar for both (the elementary and high school rezoning) this month so that we can kinda settle the community down and help them understand,” he said.
The email sent to FBISD parents late Friday night included links to the district’s preferred rezoning for elementary and high schools, which closely followed option two from the survey.
“We want to cause the least disruption,” a school board member said during the meeting.
But many of the disrupted families said they have been disrupted before. One parent at the meeting told KPRC his daughter was rezoned to a new middle school last year. With the new enrollment boundaries suggested, she will be rezoned again in the fall, and eventually a third time.
When the new FBISD high school approved by voters in November opens in 2024, assuming construction is not delayed, those who are rezoned this year will be rezoned yet again.