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Lake Highlands Growth
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Board Discussions & Growth Updates
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Lake Highlands Growth
 
White Rock Trail Property For Sale - 3/21/17
At the March 20 Board Work Session, Trustees granted staff approval to move forward with placing the district property at 9601 and 9603 White Rock Trail up for sale. The property was purchased last year as a potential site to address enrollment growth. With White Rock Elementary expanding, the White Rock Trail site is no longer needed.



Classrooms, Larger Core Spaces for WRE - 2/14/17
At the February 13 RISD Board meeting, trustees received a report and recommendations regarding growth planning at White Rock Elementary from growth consultant Stantec. Based on Stantec's presentation, feedback from the WRE community and information from RISD staff, Dr. Stone recommended that RISD move forward with expanding White Rock Elementary's existing capacity to accommodate current and future enrollment growth.

Stantec’s research included:
  • Determining campus capacity at White Rock, Northlake and Lake Highlands Elementary schools
  • Identifying and comparing space utilization as designed vs. implemented (by staff & students)
  • Charting room utilization (to separate and clarify use)
  • Charting demographic trends at each campus
  • Assessing buildable area at White Rock Elementary
Stantec shared results of a January survey open to all households in the WRE attendance area and discussed the advantages and disadvantages of several possible solutions for WRE's growth, including:
  • Add on to WRE to accommodate current and future enrollment
  • Build a new K-6 school within the current WRE attendance zone and divide the current attendance zone into two new zones
  • Rezone current WRE attendance zone along with neighboring schools (Lake Highlands and Northlake Elementary schools) which would require renovation at Northlake
  • Build a separate campus for 5th/6h grade students under different scenarios suggested in the survey
The community survey option receiving the highest amount of support was expansion of the current campus.

Taking into account all the factors, Stantec’s official recommendation was to make additions and renovations to the existing WRE campus in order to expand the school to accommodate up to 1,150 students. The strategy will allow the school to operate at approximately 90% of capacity when enrollment reaches its projected peak of 1024 students.

RISD staff shared information about some other Texas elementary schools that successfully serve enrollments in excess of 1,000 students. Staff, including principal Lee Walker, expressed a high degree of confidence that the model will be very successful at WRE, given the quality of school staff, leadership, parental involvement and commitment of the district to provide the necessary resources, including additional support staff.

The expansion will include 12 additional classrooms and enlarged core spaces, including cafeteria, library, gymnasium, kitchen and office area. On a tight timeline, the expansion can be completed in summer of 2018, in time for the 2018-19 school year. The initial projected cost was estimated between $17-$20 million, and it will be financed through funds approved in Bond 2016.

RISD staff will move forward immediately with the planning and design process in order to meet the 2018-19 timeline. Next steps will involve engaging parents and stakeholders in the design process and architectural options through community workshops.

In making her recommendation, Dr. Stone remarked, “I do recommend the district move forward to add on to White Rock Elementary. Our next step is to engage the community in the design phase. We will work together to serve the needs of our WRE students and staff. And to the families who may not agree with this decision, I ask that they please keep an open mind and work with us. Give us the opportunity to work with you to build new opportunities for our White Rock students. We will execute this expansion in the right way.”

See the presentation

Watch the video



WRE Growth Survey Results Released - 2/3/17
Stantec, the growth consultant engaged by RISD to assist with growth and facilities planning, has released the results of the WRE Growth Survey, open to every household in the White Rock Elementary attendance area. The survey results will be one factor that Stantec utilizes when making recommendations specific to White Rock Elementary's enrollment growth to the RISD Board of Trustees at the February 13 meeting. A final decision from trustees regarding the long-term solution to address White Rock's enrollment growth is expected in March.

Stantec was hired in November 2016 to provide assistance with facilities assessment and enrollment growth planning in three phases:

Phase 1 - (November 2016 – February 2017): Assess facilities, evaluate data and projections, and recommend a solution specific to White Rock Elementary and its unique enrollment growth & needs.

Phase 2 – (March 2017 – September 2017): Assess remainder of facilities in Lake Highlands, evaluate data, enrollment projections and RISD's current growth plan that calls for a new K-6 elementary school, with accompanying attendance boundary changes, that would provide classroom space relief to Aikin, Forest Lane, Skyview, Stults Road, Thurgood Marshall and Wallace elementary schools.

Phase 3 – September 2017 – August 2018: Evaluate remainder of RISD schools, data & enrollment projections to arrive at a districtwide long-range facilities needs plan.

Based on Stantec's recently completed capacity study of the school, White Rock can accommodate about 900 students. Currently, there are 926 students attending, which is creating undue burden on the school's core facilities and functions, such as the cafeteria, library, restrooms and scheduling for special classes. Over the next five years, it is projected that the White Rock Elementary attendance zone will continue to grow and create a demand to serve approximately 1,000 students. In addition to the survey results, the comprehensive study of existing WRE facilities, capacity and how space is utilized will be presented at the February 13 Board meeting.

Video of survey results and information


WRE Growth Survey Data



Demographic Update - 1/24/17
At its January 23 Work Session, the RISD Board of Trustees discussed the annual demographic report for the district from Templeton Demographics. The report, which includes updated enrollment projections, assists RISD with short- and long-range facilities and budget planning. Highlights of the discussion included:
  • RISD can expect an increase of approximately 2,100 students districtwide over the next five years, as enrollment growth is expected to continue at a moderate pace.
  • Turnover of single family homes continues to be the primary driver of enrollment growth.
  • RISD added more than 500 students in 2016-17, with an enrollment of 39,272.
  • The percentage of economically disadvantaged students fell for the 4th consecutive year.
  • By 2021-22, RISD's enrollment is projected to be 41,386, and more than 43,000 students by 2026-27.
Stantec, RISD's growth consultant assisting with long-range facilities planning, will factor the updated report into its efforts and recommendations.

View the Demographic Report

Watch the Presentation and Board Discussion



Growth Planning Update - 1/9/17
The Board received an update that the growth planning consultant Stantec remains on track to deliver a report and preliminary recommendations to address enrollment growth at White Rock Elementary in February, consistent with their initial timeline. Stantec is currently conducting a survey of all households in the WRE attendance area regarding potential solutions to address growth. The survey will close on January 17 and results will be shared with the Board and community.



white rock elementary survey - click to take survey

Download Flier (PDF)



White Rock Growth, Enrollment Planning Discussed - 12/6/16
At their December 5 regular meeting, RISD Trustees heard updates related to enrollment and growth planning at White Rock Elementary.

White Rock Enrollment Growth
Trustees heard an update from staff regarding efforts by growth planning consultant, Stantec, related to arriving at recommendations to address enrollment growth at White Rock Elementary.

Stantec is well into its initial phase, which includes evaluation of historical enrollment information and a capacity assessment of current facilities, including White Rock, Northlake and Lake Highlands elementary schools. The next phase will involve engagement of the White Rock community to collect data and feedback regarding potential solutions. Stantec continues to operate on its initial timeline, presented at the November 7 meeting, and is working toward a recommendation to the RISD Board, tentatively in February.

Staff also shared with trustees that Dallas City Councilman Adam McGough has approached the district about the possibility of acquiring City property on Goforth Road as a site for a potential school to address enrollment growth in the WRE attendance area. The site is currently used by the City of Dallas and was formerly the location of a national guard armory. Given its previous use, the district is requesting a Phase I Environmental Study before evaluating the suitability of the site for a possible school.

WRE Kinder Enrollment
Staff updated trustees regarding the plan to enroll incoming kindergartners at White Rock for the 2017-18 school year. Given the school's continued and projected growth, staff are approaching the 2017-18 enrollment differently than a typical year, including starting the Kindergarten enrollment process earlier and having a separate enrollment window for incoming Kindergarten students. Staff credited WRE parents and the LH Early Childhood PTA for assistance in developing the revised enrollment process.

Information was shared with parents in a letter last week. The process put in place for 2017-18 is expected to be temporary, until a permanent solution is identified through the process being led by the growth planning consultant, Stantec. Part of Stantec's initial work includes conducting a capacity study of White Rock Elementary to help determine ways that as many students as possible can be accommodated at the school in 2017-18.



District, Consultant to Work With Community to Consider Options for White Rock Growth - 11/8/16
At its November 7 Regular Meeting, RISD trustees heard from Ms. Vandana Nayak, a growth planning consultant with Stantec, Inc. RISD has retained Stantec to facilitate and assess the district's planning efforts related to enrollment growth. Sandra Hayes, newly appointed RISD Assistant Superintendent of Operations, will lead the project.

Interim Superintendent Dr. Jeannie Stone also announced that RISD was indefinitely suspending planning and work toward a new school at the White Rock Trail site.

"It's important that the White Rock community be part of the solution to address enrollment growth at White Rock Elementary," said Stone. "The site at White Rock Trail has been a divisive issue, and I'd like our focus to be on working with our community and planning consultants to identify a solution that addresses growth in a way that lets us move forward together."

Ms. Nayak presented the following project timeline:
Phase I – Examine growth specific to White Rock Elementary to include a comprehensive study of existing WRE facilities, capacity and how all space is utilized. Stantec will work to understand the community's voice in this process and solicit opinions, through a survey of the entire WRE attendance zone. "We must engage every household in the attendance zone in a non-biased way to extract the best information possible," said Nayak.

Phase I will also include site analysis at some neighboring schools as well, including Northlake Elementary. Stantec's Trey Laird explained that utilization of space can be different at every campus. The consultants will work closely with school staff to determine the most efficient number of students that can be served on each campus.

During the first 5-6 weeks, trustees can expect analysis of existing information and previous work, such as the Lake Highlands Reflector Committee, on-site analysis at campuses, followed by engagement with the community.

Phase II – Examine facilities and growth in the Lake Highlands area as a whole, including review of RISD's current plan to address enrollment growth across that quadrant of the district.

Phase III – Development of a long-range facilities plan for the entire district.

Demographic data will be an important part to planning for the next five years according to Nayak. Stantec will engage with K Strategies, a firm specializing in survey and data analysis, throughout these phases in order to best understand data as it is collected and study patterns.

Stantec's goal is to research and analyze the data, solicit and gather feedback, work to build consensus and move forward in order to effectively accommodate current and projected enrollment growth. "We intentionally do not have preconceptions and will set out to come up with best possible recommendation," said Laird.

Following Stantec's presentation, Brenda Payne, Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Education updated trustees regarding 2017-18 enrollment for incoming Kindergarten students at White Rock Elementary.

Ms. Payne will work closely with WRE principal Lee Walker and representatives from the Lake Highlands Area Early Childhood PTA to project an accurate number of 2017 incoming Kindergarten students toward a goal of accommodating as many White Rock students at their attendance area school as possible while a long-term solution to address growth is determined. Understanding the importance and timeliness of this issue for parents, Payne confirmed the district will communicate the plan for 2017 WRE Kindergarten enrollment by the end of the current semester.

Watch the discussion through risd.org



Dr. Stone Announcement - 11/7/16
Dr. Stone announced at the November 7 Board meeting that the district is no longer pursuing the White Rock Trail site as an option to address enrollment growth at White Rock Elementary, and planning related to a new school at the property was suspended indefinitely the first week of November.

The architects (Corgan) and zoning consultants (Masterplan) stopped all efforts related to a new school on the WRT site the first week of November. The district has no plans or intent to submit an application to the City for a building permit, and is looking forward to the upcoming process of engaging the community regarding alternatives. The construction firm (Cadence McShane) currently operating on the site is making it safe and in compliance with code requirements, and the site will exist as an unused property, maintained by RISD.

Dr. Stone has committed that the site will not be used for a school without the support of the community. This decision was made so productive discussions with the White Rock Elementary community, led by the new growth/planning consultants (Stantec), could occur without the property being a divisive factor. The only way RISD would utilize the WRT site for a school is if the community supported it as part of the growth planning process that the consultants are preparing to begin.



WRE Growth Planning Update - 11/3/16

Dr. Stone Photo Dear White Rock Elementary Families & Community,

I’m writing to update you on activity related to enrollment growth at White Rock Elementary, and invite you to attend or watch the video of the Board of Trustees meeting this Monday, November 7.

At our last RISD Board meeting, I discussed with trustees the concerns that many community members have shared with the district about the site of the new school at Walnut Hill and White Rock Trail. I reiterated that it’s important to me for members of the school community to be supportive of the solution to address enrollment growth at their school. At Monday’s meeting, the professional consultant that the district has retained to facilitate growth planning, Ms. Vandana Nayak from Stantec, will be sharing her scope of work, a timeline and next steps specific to WRE.

Ms. Nayak and Stantec will work with RISD and the White Rock community to re-evaluate options to address WRE’s extensive enrollment growth. Her experience in working with school districts and communities on strategic facilities planning is extensive and impressive, and I feel the involvement of someone with her professional expertise and background is welcome and necessary as we work together toward a solution. Parents and residents will have opportunities to engage as part of discussions about potential solutions for addressing WRE’s growth.

Also, I want to let you know that our staff is working in the short term to accommodate White Rock students, including members of the incoming Kindergarten class, while the long-term solution is identified and implemented. Part of this planning includes re-evaluating capacity and common area infrastructure at WRE to ensure we are able to serve as many White Rock students as possible in their home attendance area.

While 2017-18 Kindergarten pre-enrollment at WRE isn’t anticipated until March, I know that uncertainty due to limited space can be difficult for parents and students alike. Our goal is to finalize and communicate a plan for incoming White Rock Kindergarten students by the end of this semester in December so parents can know what to expect.

Thank you for your partnership as we work to accommodate our White Rock families during this period of extraordinary growth.

Sincerely,
Jeannie Stone, EdD
Interim Superintendent



Board to Hear From Growth Planning Consultants - 11/1/16
RISD has retained the professional services firm Stantec to assist the district with immediate and long-term enrollment growth and facilities planning. The firm will work with RISD to evaluate existing plans to address enrollment growth in Lake Highlands, and also develop a districtwide long-range facilities needs plan.

At its November 7 meeting, the RISD Board will hear an action plan and timeline from Stantec, which will initially focus on working with RISD and stakeholders in the White Rock Elementary area to identify the best solution to address the school's substantial enrollment growth.

The November 7 Regular Board meeting is open to the public and will occur at 6 p.m. at the RISD Administration Building, 400 S. Greenville Avenue in Richardson. Following the meeting, video of the discussion will be available through the RISD website.



Enrollment Growth & New School Discussion - 10/18/16
Dr. Stone shared information and feedback from an October 6 stakeholder meeting with White Rock community leaders in the Lake Highlands area. Attendees invited included:
  • Representatives from RISD
  • White Rock Elementary and PTA leadership
  • White Rock Elementary dads' club co-presidents
  • District 10 Dallas City Councilman
  • Leadership of White Rock Valley NA, Lake Highlands North HOA, White Rock Villas HOA, White Rock Place HOA, and representatives of multi-family complexes within WRE's boundaries
Dr. Stone described the meeting as productive. Its purpose, per RISD Board of Trustees president Kim Caston, was to actively listen to community leaders and consider their input on behalf of the groups they represent. Specific points for consideration included the request by community leaders to reconsider other options, as well as a shared understanding by all parties of the urgency for a solution.

Potential options suggested for reconsideration by community leaders included:
  • Adding classrooms to White Rock Elementary
  • Designating White Rock Elementary as a K-3rd campus; with 4th-6th grades at the new campus
  • Incorporating neighboring Northlake Elementary into a potential solution
The proposed White Rock Trail elementary school location is a 4.5 acre site that was purchased in April 2016 at a price of $4.5M. The traffic study completed includes recommendations for a new traffic signal for protected left turns and different timing, a dedicated deceleration lane for southbound traffic on White Rock Trail, and requirements for adequate on-site traffic queues, all to mitigate the traffic impact on public streets during peak times.

Community leaders expressed concerns with walkability to the White Rock Trail site, the amount of proposed green space, safety of students, and increased traffic. Deemed the most viable of the sites considered, which included more than 15 potential locations, Ms. Caston remarked that while the White Rock Trail location is not perfect, it was the best available option, and with design and planning can support an outstanding school.

"We want to continue to work with our community on a solution," said Dr. Stone, "and we have heard clearly that there are concerns with this site."

With the district currently serving 39,297 students, the highest ever in Richardson ISD, Dr. Stone reiterated "the need for a long-range strategic plan" to address enrollment growth.

Next steps include retaining a consulting firm with a scope of duties including:
  • Assistance with a boundary discussion and decision at White Rock Elementary, if the solution requires attendance boundary changes
  • Assistance with the second new elementary school in Lake Highlands (in phase 2 of RISD's growth plan) and its associated boundaries
  • A study of capacity trends and facility use districtwide
Dr. Stone anticipates entering into this agreement in November or December of this year. Reports are estimated to be made in spring 2017. "Everyone acknowledges the complexity of this issue," said Caston. Dr. Stone agreed and promised continued engagement with the White Rock community.

Watch the new school and growth discussion

Learn more about the new school & growth planning in Lake Highlands

Learn more about the October 17 Board meeting



School Boundaries – 9/20/16
At the September 19 Board Work Session, Dr. Stone reiterated what she shared with community members in a letter last week, indicating that the district was going to take additional time to arrive at attendance boundary recommendations for the first of two new elementary schools to address enrollment growth in the Lake Highlands area. Dr. Stone said the district would be engaging an outside firm with expertise and experience in changing boundaries to help manage the process of arriving at final recommendations for the Board to consider.

"I believe it's important that we take the extra time to get this decision right," said Stone.

Trustees supported taking additional time to arrive at a final decision regarding attendance boundaries. There is currently no timeline for making a boundary decision. The next formal step in the design and planning process of the new school at White Rock Trail is expected to occur by the end of the year, when architects complete the detailed plans for the school site for inclusion in the district’s application for a building permit with the City of Dallas.



Boundaries Recommended For New School – Updated 9/15/16
The District is postponing the public hearing, originally scheduled for Monday, Sept. 19, while RISD leadership further evaluates options for enrollment growth in the White Rock Elementary attendance zone.

Read the message from Dr. Stone

At its September 12 meeting, the RISD Board heard attendance boundary recommendations for the new elementary school planned for White Rock Trail. The boundaries were drawn from within White Rock Elementary's existing attendance boundaries, and considered criteria previously provided by the Board of Trustees, including:
  • Addressing current and projected overcrowding at White Rock Elementary
  • Prioritize student safety to & from school
  • Utilize geographical landmarks and major streets
  • Maintain existing socio-economic and racial diversity
  • Consider existing neighborhoods and homeowner associations
As recommended, the enrollment of White Rock Elementary in 2018-19 projects to be 653 students, while the enrollment of the new school projects to be 356 students, leaving room for future growth. The Board invites parent and resident feedback related to the boundary recommendations.

View the recommended boundaries

Provide feedback to the Board about the new boundaries

Watch the discussion



Board Proceeding With Two Story Design – Traffic Study Available – 9/13/16

At its Sept. 12 meeting, RISD Trustees directed architects to move forward with detailed plans for a two story design option of the new elementary school on White Rock Trail. The two story option does not require a zoning variance request from the City of Dallas. Architects will now prepare detailed plans for the school in advance of filing for a building permit from the City of Dallas as part of the planning process. The detailed plans are expected to be ready by the end of the year.

Trustees also heard details of the traffic engineering study (TES), completed by firm DeShazo & Associates. The TES is a required part of the planning process with the City of Dallas, and includes both a traffic impact analysis and a traffic management plan. The study evaluates the impact of traffic from the proposed site on public streets, determines if the site design can accommodate traffic loads at peak times, and makes recommendations to the design of the site to best manage traffic flow to reduce the impact of public streets.

Highlights of the traffic engineering study include:
  • The amount of queue space for cars on the site as designed exceeds City of Dallas specifications for peak periods during pick up and drop off times.
  • The district should build a deceleration lane on the west side of White Rock Trail, taken from the front of the property, for traffic travelling southbound turning into the school.
  • Recommendations for City of Dallas consideration include altering the timing of traffic lights and/or addition of a signal arrow at the Walnut Hill/White Rock Trail intersection during peak drop off and pick up periods, and restripe and maintain pedestrian crosswalk at Walnut Hill and White Rock Trail.
  • Other than the addition of a deceleration lane on school property along White Rock Trail, additional widening of White Rock Trail is not recommended by the study.
See the entire design & boundary presentation

Read the Traffic Engineering Study

Watch the discussion



Boundaries & Design of New School To Be Discussed Sept. 12 - 8/31/16
At its September 12 meeting, the RISD Board is expected to hear initial attendance recommendations and rationale for the new elementary school on White Rock Trail. Stakeholder feedback related to the boundaries will be solicited, and Trustees are expected to make a final decision on boundaries at the October 3 meeting.

Also at the September 12 meeting, trustees are expected to make preliminary design decisions on the configuration of the school, including elements from the most recent community survey, such as the location of the outdoor play areas, number of floors and aesthetic design of the exterior facade.



Design of New Elementary School - 8/17/16
At their August 15 Work Session, RISD Trustees continued discussions about the preliminary design and configuration of the first of two new elementary schools in Lake Highlands, at the corner of White Rock Trail & Walnut Hill Lane.

Survey Results

Staff reviewed results of a survey related to general design elements. Aggregate findings from the 527 respondents included:
  • No clear preference between a two story (51.2%) or three story (48.8%) design option
  • A clear preference that student play areas and usable green space be located behind the building (71.1%) compared to in front of the building (28.9%)
  • Aesthetically, a preference for a modern design (59.0%) compared to a more traditional design (41.0%)
The designs currently prepared are conceptual renderings, and once decisions are made about the layout and configuration of the site, schematic designs can be prepared.

Usable Outdoor Space for Students
Board members and staff questioned Corgan architect Steve Hulsey about the conceptual renderings, specifically as they relate to space on the site available for outdoor student use.
  • Mr. Hulsey confirmed the square footage amounts for outdoor play areas published as part of the conceptual renderings are accurate, and only include outdoor areas that would be usable by students.
  • The conceptual renderings are preliminary to illustrate logistical relationships and not developed to a precise scale.
  • Architects used computer-assisted design (CAD) to calculate the approximate amounts of usable outdoor space for students, but the conceptual renderings alone cannot be used to accurately calculate the usable outdoor space.
  • Final construction documents with exact dimensions are expected to be available by the end of the year.
Implications of Zoning Process & Timeline
A decision is needed by the September 12 Regular Meeting on preliminary design elements to stay within a timeline that allows the school to open for the 2018-2019 school year. If the three-story design is chosen, a request for a code variance will be required through the City of Dallas, while district legal staff have indicated the two-story option would not require a variance request.

The code variance process can be time consuming, and staff discussed contingencies to accommodate enrollment growth if the opening of the new school is delayed beyond 2018. White Rock Elementary is projected to exceed 1,000 students by the 2018-19 school year. Adding additional portable classrooms is not a viable option because the campus does not have sufficient space for central functions to accommodate that many students. The two most viable options to accommodate additional students would include:
  • Overflow to Other RISD Schools
    As enrollment grows that cannot be accommodated at a neighborhood school, additional students would be assigned to other RISD schools that have space in different grade levels. It's currently unknown what other schools would have capacity in different grade levels in 2018. One goal of overflow placements is to assign students to a school geographically close to their home attendance area. An issue that has occurred in Lake Highlands in recent years involves fewer campuses having room to receive overflowed students due to increased enrollment across the area, so some placements have been made to schools outside of the Lake Highlands area. Another challenge of overflowing students involves families with siblings that require space to be available in multiple grade levels in order for the family to remain together. This scenario reduces the number of possible schools with space to receive overflowed siblings, and can result in overflow assignments farther away.
  • Reassigning Attendance Boundaries
    One method used in the past to accommodate enrollment growth at specific schools has been to designate portions of attendance boundaries to other schools that are projected to have space. In this situation, a portion of the current WRE attendance area could be reassigned to a different RISD school that would serve as the home campus for those families, thereby alleviating enrollment at WRE.
Trustees are expected to make a decision on the design elements of the new school at the September 12 Regular Meeting, which will allow for schematic designs to be prepared.

Learn more about the August 15 Work Session, including video



Board Activity Update - 8/5/16
At its August 1 Regular Meeting, the RISD Board of Trustees discussed the timeline and process for determining attendance boundaries of the new elementary school in the White Rock area of Lake Highlands and also heard additional details about exterior design options and configuration of the school.

Attendance Boundaries Process & Timeline
Dr. Stone led a discussion about the process, factors and timeline that will be used to determine the attendance boundaries for the new school, which will impact the existing boundaries of White Rock Elementary. Trustees discussed consideration of factors such as balanced enrollments between the two schools, socio-economic balance, natural/logical boundaries, travelling safety, and attempting to preserve existing neighborhoods and homeowner associations, if possible.

Staff will work with the district's demographic firm and leadership team to evaluate the different factors with the goal of arriving at boundary recommendations for the Board to consider at the Sept. 12 meeting.

Exterior Design & Configuration Options
Trustees also received updated information about configuration and exterior design options of the new school. Considerations include options that would and would not require a zoning variance. Potential options include:
  • Number of stories the building would have (2 or 3)
  • Location of green space/play areas (front or rear of building)
  • Traditional (more brick) or modern (more glass) appearance
Each option would include a comparable amount of green space for student use. Choosing a three-story configuration would require a zoning variance process with the City of Dallas that could potentially extend the completion date, but could cost approximately $900,000 less than a two-story configuration that would not require a zoning variance.

Trustees and staff expressed a desire for community feedback before a decision is made on the school's exterior design and configuration at the next meeting of the Board on August 15. District staff are surveying White Rock area families and residents to gather feedback about exterior design & configuration options, and will share results with trustees at the next meeting.

See Updated Design Options from August 1 Meeting
*

See supplemental renderings available August 5 & included in survey*

*Please note that the square footage of structures and spaces are estimates and may vary up to 10% from conceptual renderings as the process advances through the engineering process.



An Open Letter to the White Rock Community Regarding the Recommendation for a K-6 School at White Rock Trail - 6/22/16

Dr. Stone Photo Dear White Rock Parents and Community,

At its June 20th meeting, the Richardson ISD Board of Trustees approved the recommendation to build a new K-6 school at White Rock Trail and Walnut Hill Lane. I’m writing to share some of my thoughts that led up to this important moment, as well as a commitment to you as we move forward.

I have heard each of your voices as the Board of Trustees and District leaders moved toward this decision. Your phone calls, emails and visits have helped me understand the passion you have for your children, the rich tradition of the White Rock area, and your support of public education. I have valued your presence at meetings and your candid conversations. Throughout the entire process, a genuine respect for your community culture, paired with a sincere intent to do what is best for all students, has guided the journey toward this decision. Please know that the tension for the families in the White Rock Elementary area and the surrounding community has weighed on my mind and on my heart.

This was not an easy decision; however, it was one that was based on an unwavering commitment to the best instructional practices that have made RISD a highly sought-after place to raise children. In February, we convened a Reflector Committee comprised of 48 parents, community members, educators, and students representing all of the schools in Lake Highlands. I cannot say enough to express my appreciation for this group’s time, focus and thoughtful exchange of ideas with fellow Lake Highlands stakeholders. Open dialogue and authentic collaboration ensued for more than six weeks, which laid the foundation for many meaningful relationships on which I continue to rely. I will always be grateful for this time with the Reflector Committee, the result of which moved forward the K-6 option as one of two recommendations presented to the Board.

Throughout the past months, I have sought input from many experienced educators both inside and outside RISD, consulted vast amounts of educational research, and continued to engage the community. I also relied on my twenty-six years of experience which has honed my professional judgment. All of this weighed in to lead toward the recommendation that was made at Monday night’s board meeting: to build a new K-6 school. I am confident that this was the right decision for the right reason – it’s what is best for educating kids. I am also very pleased that the seven members of the RISD Board of Trustees shared in and unanimously supported this decision.

Link to PDF of desings for new school

Now, we must make difficult decisions about attendance zones. My pledge to the families of White Rock Elementary is to continue to listen and to provide you with information along the way. I also know that you have concerns about the location site at Walnut Hill and White Rock Trail. With the scarcity of land in Lake Highlands, we believe this site is the best option of available land within the White Rock Elementary area. In addition:
  • The site offers some unique design opportunities, and I commit that RISD will deliver an exemplary, state-of-the-art elementary school on this property.
  • Depending on the design chosen, the site can accommodate between 1.95 and 2.13 acres of outdoor green space for student use, which is ample for an elementary school.
  • Because convenient street parking is not available, the site design will incorporate 240-260 parking spaces to accommodate parents and visitors. This amount is substantially more than a typical elementary school. The maximum number of spots would only be used by parents and visitors for large school events; a much smaller number of spots will be sufficient for daily use.
  • To mitigate congestion on the public streets, the school design will be situated to accommodate a very large queue of cars, 230-250 if necessary, for drop off and pick up. This capacity is significantly higher than other RISD elementary schools and will contribute toward smoother traffic flow in the mornings and afternoons.
  • The district has completed a preliminary traffic study, which informed the initial design of the campus. A more extensive traffic study will be conducted further into the process.
  • The school design process is in the preliminary stages, and we invite the community to share thoughts and ideas about the preliminary plans, which can be viewed on the RISD website.
Thank you to the many, many members of the White Rock, Lake Highlands, and RISD community who have been part of this strategic decision-making process. This is among the first steps in a multi-phase, long-term plan to address enrollment growth in Lake Highlands. I commit to you that the elements that make White Rock Elementary an exceptional school – great students, outstanding parental support and involvement, and an exceptional staff – will be present at the new campus.

As we partner in the next phase of this work, I ask for your trust and your continued, authentic collaboration that allows us to work together in support of our students. Thank you for entrusting your children to RISD.

Sincerely,
Jeannie Stone, Ed.D.
Interim Superintendent



Enrollment Growth - 6/21/16
The Board discussed the configuration of the planned new school to accommodate overcrowding at White Rock Elementary as part of the first phase of the plan to address enrollment growth in the Lake Highlands area.

Interim Superintendent Dr. Jeannie Stone recommended that the school, to be located at White Rock Trail and Walnut Hill Lane, be configured as a K-6 school as the instructional delivery model best suited for student success and consistent with RISD's existing elementary schools. Trustees unanimously expressed support for Dr. Stone's recommendation, agreeing that the stability and fewer transitions required of students by a K-6 model is the best option for student achievement.

A K-6 configuration means that attendance boundaries for the new school will be created from White Rock's existing boundaries. District staff is expected to bring initial ideas for redrawn boundaries to the Board in August in advance of opportunities for parent & stakeholder feedback.

"We understand that changing attendance boundaries can be difficult," said Interim Superintendent Dr. Jeannie Stone. "Parents should know that we will do everything in our power to make the transition a positive experience for students and families. And at the end of the process, our students will benefit from a state-of-the-art school that is outstanding in every way."

An architect followed with a presentation of updated conceptual design options for the new school site. The plans are in the preliminary stage and provide an idea of how the elementary school would be situated on the site, including parking, green space and pick-up/drop-off queues. Depending on the design chosen:
  • The site would have between 1.95 and 2.13 acres of green space for student use.
  • The site would accommodate a large amount of parking, between 240-260 spaces, due to the lack of off-site parking options for parents and visitors.
  • The site would accommodate a very large pick-up/drop-off queue of between 230-250 cars to mitigate the impact of morning and afternoon traffic on White Rock Trail and Walnut Hill.
See the potential site plans
Learn more about the June 20 Regular Meeting, including video



Board Supports Recommendations for Two New Schools in LH - 6/1/16
RISD Trustees met in a called meeting on May 31 to continue discussions about plans to accommodate enrollment growth in the Lake Highlands area. Acting Superintendent, Dr. Jeannie Stone, began with a review of past and projected enrollment at each elementary school in the Lake Highlands area in relation to each building's location and enrollment capacity. The review included the total number of additional general education classrooms needed at each school (if any) to accommodate peak projected enrollment growth at no more than 90% capacity.

Dr. Stone then presented recommendations to address growth, to be implemented in two phases.

Phase 1 Recommendations - for completion between 2016-2018
  • Construct a new school at the site on the corner of Walnut Hill Road and White Rock Trail to address enrollment growth at White Rock Elementary, which has experienced the strongest enrollment growth in RISD, has the highest projected growth and most immediate need for additional space.
  • Relocate the southern RISD employee early childhood education program, currently operated at Lake Highlands Elementary, to White Rock Elementary as a more central location.
  • Move the Wallace Elementary Pre-K program to Lake Highlands Elementary.
  • Recapture classroom space at Aikin Elementary as part of existing renovation plans.
  • Evaluate the addition of magnet programming at Northlake Elementary as an option more convenient for elementary parents in eastern Lake Highlands.
Phase 2 Recommendations - for completion between 2018-2021
  • Construct a new K-6 elementary school on the eastern side of the Lake Highlands zone, targeting the area on either side of 635, approximately between Abrams Rd. and Royal Lane. The new school, with accompanying attendance boundary changes, would provide classroom space relief to Aikin, Forest Lane, Skyview, Stults Road, Thurgood Marshall and Wallace elementary schools.
  • Return students to Aikin Elementary that are currently in areas north of 635 that had previously been relocated to Stults Road Elementary. The impacted area is closer to Aikin.
  • Relocate a portion of Skyview Elementary's attendance boundaries to Thurgood Marshall, which is closer to the impacted area.
  • Expand Northlake Elementary to include magnet programming if evaluation determines demand exists.
Trustees expressed support for the recommendations. RISD has begun evaluation of site options for the new eastern Lake Highlands elementary school.

The grade configuration of the new campus to address growth at White Rock Elementary will be discussed at the next Board meeting on June 13. Options include a K-6 school, which would necessitate an attendance boundary change, or an intermediate White Rock campus for upper grades, which would not require a boundary change.

See the plan to address growth
     
 
 
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RISD Communications
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The Lake Highlands Growth pages provide interested stakeholders with the comprehensive history of district and Board discussions, actions and chronology of how RISD has managed enrollment growth in Lake Highlands area schools since 2013, including Bond 2016 planning and the work of the Lake Highlands Reflector Committee. Parents or residents who want to understand what growth solutions have been discussed, proposed or implemented in Lake Highlands schools in recent years will find this information useful.
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