As officials in Allen Independent School District grapple with overcrowding on the city’s west side, they are considering closing two elementary schools on the east side and realigning attendance zones.
Parents at the district’s school board meeting Monday evening voiced frustration with district officials about the issue, saying they feel blindsided by the news sent to parents Friday. The issue was not on the agenda, but parents spoke about it during the public comment period.
The memo said enrollment on the city’s west side is considerably higher than the east yet 75% of open elementary seats across the district are in the east side.
“To put it in general terms, our schools in the west are reaching capacity limits, while our eastern schools are generally experiencing declining enrollments,” the memo states.
The district said it is considering several options, including realigning elementary attendance zones, repurposing George J. Anderson Elementary School into an early childhood campus, closing Rountree Elementary for future noninstructional use and moving a dual-language program from Boyd to Chandler elementary.
“How does removing two schools solve overcrowding?” Michelle Boren asked trustees.
Boren said she is frustrated with the lack of openness of the district’s plan to repurpose the schools and wanted trustees to release proposed redistricting maps.
“At the end of the day, be transparent,” she said. “Extend the olive branch by simply answering our questions. We just want information.”
Michael Simpson said closing Anderson Elementary would make it difficult for children who walk to school, saying the current 5- to 10-minute walk would turn into 30 minutes if students are sent to Olson Elementary a few miles away.
Simpson was also concerned with safety because children would have to cross busy intersections instead of walking through neighborhood streets.
Holly Barnard told trustees she did not know her children’s school was under a threat to close until recently.
“Our neighborhood has taken in a lot, and we haven’t had time to process it,” she said.
Barnard said children are just now starting to feel some sense of normalcy after the pandemic.
“Please don’t let our kids lose their school right when they are starting to feel normal again,” she said.
In August, Allen ISD sent an email to parents and staff about plans for analysis of the district’s elementary attendance zones with an application to join an attendance boundary adjustment committee. Out of nearly 200 applicants, a final group of more than 70 members was selected that included district staff, parents and community members, according to the memo.
The committee studied topics including demographic trends, enrollment forecasts, specialized programming and financial efficiencies and met for discussion Sept. 7 and Sept. 21.
The district will hold two public meetings to gather feedback from the community before taking a vote on the issue. The meetings will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 6 at Preston Elementary and at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 2 at Boyd Elementary.
“It is important to reiterate that these considerations are still being studied and no decisions have been made at this point. The district understands that any discussion of attendance realignment or repurposing of campuses is a sensitive issue, and we pledge to keep our families informed of the process as we move forward,” the memo read.