LHISD adopts new middle school attendance boundaries
By ANTHONY FLORES
With the addition of the new Santa Rita Middle School, the Liberty Hill ISD Board of Trustees on Monday approved new attendance boundaries to better compensate for the fast-growing district
With several options on the table, the Board voted on option two, which sees the attendance zone divided by US Hwy 183A, a natural and clean divider. The line also creates a simple plan for the addition of a third middle school in the future.
“We wanted it to be simple and clear and not confusing for parents. We didn’t want to split neighborhoods or split small roads. That’s why Highway 183 makes sense,” said Liberty Hill ISD Superintendent Steve Snell. “If you live on this side, you go here, or if you live on this side, you go there. It also makes sense as you look forward to the third middle school. We feel it will be more centrally located, so the boundaries get smaller instead of people having to move.”
The decision to divide zones along 183A goes beyond it being a clean dividing line. As more people fill the area between Ronald Reagan and 183A, the new zones are accounting for increased population density.
“So, the biggest change is the sheer growth in Rancho Sienna and Santa Rita down the Ronald Reagan – 29 corridor,” said Snell. “It’s causing those attendance boundaries to get smaller and smaller to account for the density of the area.”
The change may be a difficult adjustment, but Snell says that people shouldn’t worry because they will offer the same high-level education at all schools.
“In my opinion, people’s hearts are Liberty Hill Junior High and Liberty Hill High School. When you think of a split and that we might build a second high school, that pulls at heartstrings,” he said. “Now, even with a brand new building at Santa Rita, the kids worry that they might be separated from their friends or have different classmates. That’s why it’s important to us that no matter what school you go to, you get the same education, the same great teachers, the same great coaches, and the same expectations. Our deal is that we want it to be a small-town feel.”
While it may be hard for some students in these new zones, the goal is to make things easier for families in the areas.
“When we look at the sheer numbers of students coming in, we wanted it to make the most sense. We want families to move as few times as possible,” said Snell. “We understand we have families in the community that move every time we’ve opened a school. We’re trying to get more of the neighborhood school options so people know this is the school they will attend. It’s difficult with new divisions popping up daily. That’s why it’s important we study the demographics.”
Snell says within the next decade, LHISD will continue to expand. This expansion will further shrink attendance zones.
“We’ll start to see the east side and the west side start to get smaller and smaller. Within the next 10 years, we think we’re going to have five or six middle schools,” said Snell. “We think we’ll have 15 elementary schools and two high schools while working on the third. It all depends on the growth, and if it keeps going at the rate it is.”
Based on demographic studies, by the end of the decade, the high school is expected to have close to 6,000 students. For Snell, that’s why the addition of new schools and planning for them now is critical.
“So, a 6,000-student high school is not only large from the standpoint of the number of kids, but it’s large from the standpoint of the footprint that school would have to have,” he said. “We would need a school three times the size. We don’t want kids to get lost. We want them to be successful. Whether it’s one high school or two or three, that’s an opportunity for them all to be champions. The same level of expectations for academic championships, athletic championships, fine arts championships, it’s going to be at every school. No matter how many schools, we’re going to have that same level of expectations.”
For parents who have questions or need more information, LHISD will host meetings in person and virtually. Discussions on new elementary school boundaries will begin soon.
“We encourage everybody to listen. It’s not just about bond elections. It’s about the future of Liberty Hill,” said Snell. “We’ve been involved for the last 12 months in strategic planning and being very purposeful with what we do as we grow. We all love Liberty Hill, and we want to make sure every new school that opens is just as wonderful as the next.”