Realignment primer: George Ranch, 5A schools intrigue for LCISD

Realignment primer: George Ranch, 5A schools intrigue for LCISD (Copyright (c) 2022 VYPE - All rights reserved)

Lamar Consolidated ISD athletic director Nikki Nelson is hoping this week’s UIL biannual realignment is the same as the last in 2020.

“Realignment is just opportunity,” said Nelson, who took over as athletic director in the spring of 2016. “It’s a reset every two years. We were lucky in the last one because we didn’t realign much. This one, it may stay the same or it all might get shaken up and we may have to start over.”

For the 2022-2024 realignment, which will be revealed Thursday morning, Class 6A will consist of schools with enrollments of 2,225 or more. Class 5A will consist of 1,300-2,224. Class 4A will consist of 545-1,299. That goes for all sports except football.

In football, enrollment for 6A classification is 2,225 and up. 5A-Division I is 1,925-2,224. 5A-Division II is 1,300-1,924. 4A-Division I is 880-1,299. 4A-Division II is 545-879.

By the enrollment numbers submitted by Lamar CISD in the winter, George Ranch (2,639 enrollment) will be LCISD’s only 6A school. That is no different than past years.

The other five schools—Foster (2,199), Fulshear (2,133), Terry (1,971), Lamar Consolidated (1,786), and Randle (1,542)—will be 5A.

There were initial thoughts Randle might go 4A-DI, but amendments made to UIL’s realignment policies enabled it to go 5A.

Because it is the district’s lone 6A school, George Ranch is the wild card for LCISD this realignment. There is no telling which district(s) it might be aligned with.

George Ranch is currently situated with the Fort Bend ISD schools in 20-6A. But with FBISD’s Hightower High moving up from 5A to 6A this realignment, it would even out FBISD and possibly create an all-FBISD district with eight teams, pushing George Ranch out.

Nelson said George Ranch could go several ways: to the Katy district, Alvin district, Pearland district, Clear Creek district, or even return to Fort Bend.

“Stranger things have happened,” Nelson said. “They’re (George Ranch) kind of the lone ranger, out there on their own, which you don’t have often in 6A. The ability to take them and round out a district then becomes very attractive.”

LCISD’s situation with its 5A schools is also a topic of intrigue.

Because of the district’s location on the outskirts of the Greater Houston area, Nelson said there is always a concern the 5A schools could be realigned to Region IV, especially the two 5A-DII schools, Lamar Consolidated and Randle.

It’s happened before when LCISD’s smaller schools were partnered in a district with schools from Victoria and Calhoun.

“It’s incredible what the UIL does every two years,” Nelson said. “That’s a huge amount of work to take on every two years, in the name of giving our kids the most equal playing opportunity possible.”

When it comes to realignment, competitiveness is the priority for coaches. Logistics, such as money and travel, is the priority for the school district.

Nelson said the prospect of new districts, which would mean new coaches and new athletic directors to partner with, are exciting. She said she’s taken and learned things from all districts and ADs that she’s worked with, including AD Curtis Rhodes at Needville when Fulshear was a 4A school, and the Calhoun and Victoria schools.

Nelson said re-structuring offers a built-in professional development opportunity for athletic directors. One of the reasons she thinks LCISD was able to get a new sound system at Traylor Stadium was because a few of its schools competed in a 5A-DII district with the Montgomery schools, a district that had a stadium with an impressive sound system.

Nelson had a point of reference to offer when detailing the advantages and benefits of a new sound system.

“We’re able to grow everybody’s knowledge, and that helps us out on the back-end,” she said.

LCISD remains one of the fastest growing school districts in Texas. Up until this point, LCISD master planning principles have been to build high schools for enrollments of a maximum of 2,000 and junior highs for 750. Nelson said the school board is currently considering changing that.

A demography report shows that many of the LCISD schools will eventually exceed 2,000 in enrollment. So, there are talks among the board members to move the maximum high school size from 2,000 to 2,500. That would include upcoming high school No. 7.