The switch to community schools for Kaufman ISD means new attendance zones for the district’s three elementary campuses that will house first through fifth graders.
The district gave patrons a first look at the boundaries at a meeting last Thursday, and the school board approved the proposal Monday night.
Those with questions about where their children will attend school in the fall can use the district’s website, www.kaufmanisd.net, and look at the map. Those living close to zone boundaries can enter their addresses to find out which campus will be their children’s new school home.
Superintendent Lori Blaylock said the district has been considering the community schools concept for three or four years.
Under the plan, KISD will switch from having two grades on each elementary campus to having grades 1-5 on each of the three campuses.
The Helen Edwards Early Childhood center will continue to house the pre-kindergarten, Head Start and kindergarten programs.
Monday Primary, Phillips Elementary and Nash Intermediate will transition to campuses for grades 1-5.
Sixth graders will move to the Norman Junior High campus, where a new wing is being built for them. They will also see a few more opportunities, such as band and pre-athletics.
The dividing line for the three elementary attendance zones roughly follows State Hwy. 34 North, State Hwy. 243 East and U.S. Hwy. 175 South.
Through town the dividing line is Washington St. from the courthouse square south to U.S. 175 and Mulberry St. east to Hwy. 34. The line jogs down Ola Road.
Those west of the line will attend Nash, north of 243 and Ola Road to Phillips and the rest to Monday Primary.
Blaylock and demographer Trent Smith with Templeton Demographics laid out some of the reasoning behind the zones.
Smith’s firm mapped the location of each student within the district.
They also looked at various populations, such as bilingual, economically disadvantaged, ethnic groups and special ed, to try to distribute them as evenly as possible.
The firm also looked at growth trends so that the zones can be left in place at least five years.
Smith said they will likely remain viable for longer than that. He said the proposed new campus for Phillips at Hwy. 243 and FM 2727 was more of a factor than the current location.
The firm looked at natural dividing lines, such as major roads, and tried to keep neighborhoods and subdivisions together.
Blaylock said those who grew up in the community are accustomed to the model that has students switching campuses every other year.
But many of those moving into the community are not.
The administration looked at research, in addition to hearing parents and teachers, that the single campus model is better geared toward student success.
“We’re not setting them up for success like we wanted,” she said.
Blaylock fielded several parent questions, including how the change would impact busing.
Assistant Superintendent Kell Clopton said all students would be able to take a bus to school, regardless of whether they live within two miles of the campus.
He said some details are still being worked out, but overall it appears the time students spend on buses will be reduced.
Blaylock said the change should also reduce the amount of school-related traffic in town.
To a question of older students bullying younger ones, she said that bullying is always a concern, particularly with a wide range of students on one campus.
But grades will be segregated in different halls, so that students from disparate grades usually should not come into contact with each other during the school day.
Campus principals will remain in place, while teachers will be redistributed.
To determine those moves the administration surveyed the teachers and sought input from principals on evaluations.
Each campus will have at least four teachers for each grade, and some will have five.
Those new assignments are expected to be announced on Friday.
Then it will be a busy summer getting everyone moved, in addition to new age-appropriate furniture and playground equipment.
Parents also questioned the loss of contact with friends their children have made.
That is also true for parents and teachers, Blaylock said.
“There are hardships,” Blaylock said, “And I don’t want to not acknowledge that.”
There will be some tears but also opportunities for deeper relationships, she said.
Instead of 300 students in one grade on a campus, there will be one-third that many on each campus and three times the opportunities for student participation.
“This is what is best for the long-term district,” Blaylock said.
“There are things to be said both ways, but the pros outweigh the cons,” she said.
Although unrelated to the rezoning of the district, Blaylock said KISD is one of the few districts in Texas where all students can eat breakfast and lunch at no charge.
That program has been in place through the sixth grade, and next year it will expand to the eighth grade.
Blaylock thanked those who took the time to be interested and encouraged them to continue to participate on their campuses.
She asked that everyone give the new program one year before deciding how well it is working.
“See if things don’t straighten out,” she said.
All the students will be Lions, she added, rather than each campus having a different mascot.