The start of the 2020 school year will see major changes for the Sherman Independent School District with the opening of the new Sherman High School, a new middle school and a complete restructuring of the district. With the changes on the horizon, district leaders held a workshop Monday evening to prepare for what this will mean for the district, its educators and students.


The workshop, entitled “Building Bearcats — Transition to 2020,” started preliminary talks about the changes that will come with the start of the 2020-2021 school year. Beyond the opening of a new campus, and repurposing of the current high school as a middle school, the district will also reintegrate the fifth grade into elementary education and shift sixth grade into the middle school campuses.


“A lot is going to be happening, so strap in, get ready, because we are going to be doing a lot of work over the next couple years,” Assistant Superintendent Tyson Bennett said.


Monday’s meeting covered topics from shifting staff and equipment between the campuses to changes in campus attendance boundaries, among others.


Sherman ISD Superintendent David Hicks said the transition came out of planning sessions ahead of the 2017 bond that helped finance the new high school. During these talks, Hicks said the district discussed the possibility of returning to the high-middle-elementary school model as a way of reducing the number of transitions for students during their education.


These transitions can have a negative impact on a student’s success, especially during the early years, district officials said during Monday’s meeting.


Under its current layout in Sherman, elementary school runs through the fourth grade, with fifth and sixth grade classes held at Dillingham Intermediate School. From Dillingham, students then transition to Piner Middle School for seventh and eighth grades before moving on to Sherman High School.


With the changes, the current high school will transition into being a second middle school, while Dillingham will become a new elementary school. While the intermediate school will be renamed Dillingham Elementary, Hicks said officials have not decided on the new name for the former high school yet.


This will bring the district to eight elementary schools. The change will add additional capacity to all levels of education in the district, but Hicks said this will be felt the most on the middle and high school levels.


Hicks said one of the first steps the district will soon be taking ahead of this transition is a demographic study of the district’s enrollment patterns and projections to better break up the coverage area for each of the schools. Bennett said the district will attempt to make clear feeding lines for each of the schools so that neighborhoods, where children make relationships, are not split up.


“We have many different considerations and know that we are committed to our neighborhood schools,” Bennett said.


Another consideration will be how to best allocate educators between each of the campuses. The goal will be to provide equal access to quality resources and programs while also allowing teachers to teach where they want to work.


Board member Brad Morgan asked how soon the district could give out information to parents about a proposed two-tier transportation schedule included in the transition. This would allow district campuses to stagger their opening and release times so buses can more efficiently pick up students. District officials estimated that more information would be released starting this fall.


Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be contacted at mhutchins@heralddemocrat.com or @mhutchinsHD on Twitter.