In an effort to better balance the number of students at Lamar and Terrell elementary schools, the Denison Independent School District will rezone attendance boundaries between the two schools for the next school year.
The DISD board of trustees approved a proposal Tuesday to adjust the boundaries, which is expected to affect about 40 to 50 students who could potentially leave Lamar and attend Terrell.
“The whole purpose behind this is to create balance,” Assistant Superintendent David Kirkbride said. “We’ve got one campus with barely over 300 students and another with 477 or so. Spacing issues have been created, and we have a responsibility to balance that out.”
The area affected is in a section northeast of Denison between the Red River and FM 120. Current kindergarten through third grade students from the zone have the option to stay at Lamar for the rest of their elementary years, but incoming kindergarten students must attend Terrell.
The district’s goal is for each of the elementary schools to have an enrollment between 390 and 430 students with an exception of Houston, which is near capacity at 260 students. Currently, Lamar has about 477 and Terrell has about 304. Hyde Park has 411 students and Mayes has 443.
The district held an informational meeting with families in the zone on Dec. 8, and Kirkbride said another letter will be sent out asking parents to let the district know whether their children will stay or they plan to enroll at Terrell. Kirkbride said it’s important they hear back from these parents as their decisions could impact staffing. Another meeting may be held at a later point, he said.
Kirkbride said the Dec. 8 meeting had a low turnout, but the parents who attended understood the situation.
Kirkbride noted that most of the re-zoned area was previously in Terrell’s boundaries, but it was changed over to Lamar before the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year. That was the year fifth grade was brought out of the elementary and moved to the intermediate school with sixth grade at B. McDaniel. So the boundaries were altered to balance enrollment as the grades and schools were shuffled, Kirkbride said. But during the past three years, Lamar’s enrollment increased while Terrell’s decreased.
“When your dealing with patterns of residency and all, a lot of times it’s impossible to completely predict,” Kirkbride said. “In this case it got a little out of whack there.”
Starting this month, new students have the option of attending Terrell this school year, but must provide their own transportation. If the new students from the zone choose Lamar, they will be enrolled only for the rest of the year then will be transferred to Terrell.
“So if they say transportation is an issue, they can come into Lamar this year, but beginning next year they’ll have to go to Terrell,” Kirkbride said during the meeting.
Kirkbride noted that many parents from the zone may choose to stay at Lamar, so it may take up to three years before the plan is fully realized.
“Both schools are tremendous schools; both schools are great places to educate your children,” Kirkbride said.