TEXAS VIEW: Schools should grandfather students affected badly by rezoning

By The Eagle

We are blessed in this community to have four outstanding public high schools, two in each city. Not only do they provide outstanding educations, they form a focus for community attention, from football, basketball and other sports to band and orchestra to a wealth of other activities.

In other words, each of our high schools has a large fan base of students and former students and their families. Thus emotions are high when school districts must adjust attendance zones.

That is currently the case in College Station, because College Station High School will reach 110 percent capacity in the 2019-2020 school year, while A&M Consolidated High School, the older of the two schools, actually will be at or below 85 percent capacity. To address the issue, the College Station school board approved a shift in boundary lines to balance the student population at the two high schools. In doing so, the board chose not to “grandfather” families in one current zone or the other.

The change won’t take effect until the 2019-2020 school year. Eighth graders in one high school zone, but who will be in the other zone in two years, have a choice of going to either school when they start ninth grade in the fall. But, if they start at their currently assigned high school in August, they will be forced to move to the high school in their new zone the following school year. They will not be allowed to remain at the high school at which they start, a departure from school district policies of the past. According to the district, 114 families are affected, with 86 moving to the Consolidated zone in two years and 28 moving to the College Station High zone for 2019-2020. That leaves a net difference of 58 students forced to move to Consolidated for 2019-2020.

The rezoning creates problems for some families in the district if they already have a student in one of the high schools. That student can stay at that high school after the rezoning takes effect, but younger children not already in high school this year will have to go to the high school in their new zone starting in 2019-2020.

Further complicating the issue is that eighth graders who start at what will be their high school for their last three years won’t be eligible for bus transportation this coming school year. Since they won’t be driving, parents or older siblings must drive them every school day.

It is quite conceivable that some of the 58 families could have a child at, say, Consolidated and another child at College Station High. That creates a scheduling nightmare for families already stressed with all the activities children are involved in today. We don’t know how many of the 58 families will fall in to that category, but there is no reason any of them should.

A simple exception should be made for families who already have a child at one school to allow younger children to attend that same high school. This would involve only those families with a child starting high school under the new rezoning. He or she should be allowed to attend high school with the older sibling.

This may not seem like a big deal, but it is. What happens if both children play football or basketball, are in the band, are cheerleaders or participate in any extracurricular activity. In the case of football, if both Consolidated and College Station High are playing at the same time, player parents, cheerleader parents, band parents and pep squad parents must make the difficult decision of which game to attend. Should dad go to one and mom to the other? That means both parents would miss out on a significant part of this family bonding experience.

Also, it is conceivable that one child would face another in, say a football game, when the two schools face each other. Which team do the families support?

There is also something to be said for allowing the older sibling to set an example for and help a younger sibling in school.

None of this is to say one high school is better than the other. That is far from the case. Both A&M Consolidated and College Station High are great schools, full of opportunities for every student.

But it seems for familiar cohesion, an exception should be made for those few families faced with the dual school dilemma.

The Eagle