Watch CBS News

Richardson ISD approves school consolidation plan to some parents' dismay

Richardson ISD approves school consolidation plan to some parents' dismay
Richardson ISD approves school consolidation plan to some parents' dismay 02:07

RICHARDSON — Richardson Independent School District's School Board of Trustees voted unanimously to change the future of four elementary schools and hundreds of students and try to tackle a multimillion-dollar financial burden.

"We're having to have a conversation no one wants to have," Tabitha Branum said. "We know it's disruptive for our students, staff, for our families, and our community."

Branum, the RISD Superintendent, said the district started analyzing their issues nearly two years ago. The pandemic severed a projection of a 40,000-student population. The system did not meet that mark.

According to Branum, the system is 9,000 students down, and the projections for the next ten years don't show an increase.

Fewer students means less money coming in. Branum said the state's funding for public school education is tied up in Governor Greg Abbott's School Choice program.

In the meantime, RISD is trying to resolve a budget hole of more than $28 million.

As a part of Project RightSize, Greenwood Hills Elementary, Springridge Elementary School, Spring Valley Elementary, and Thurgood Marshall Elementary were on the board's Thursday evening agenda. Dobie Pre-K is going to get repurposed, the district said.

The consolidation would shift hundreds of students from the four elementary schools, where boundary adjustments would improve enrollment numbers.

However, the new adjustments are unfavorable to some parents whose children were less than 100 feet from their school. The board tried to remedy that by readjusting lines for Dartmouth Elementary School students. A 7-0 vote to remove a former student enrollment tool called non-contiguous boundaries helped some, but not all.

"I appreciate your service, but this represents local government at its worst," a speaker said.

The long line of Dartmouth parents appealing for another option than rezoning as a result of Springridge Elementary School fell short of changing the board's mind. Even students who made a plea were heard.

"If you approve Project RightSize," a student said. "The boundaries splitting my neighborhood in half...every single one of my friends will be rezoned and my heart will be too.:"

Trustees voted on each school individually. All votes were 7-0. The vote impacting Dartmouth set off an outburst and even rumblings of revenge from parents of students who left talking about retribution at election time.

Sarah Pack, an attorney, has a first-grade daughter at Dartmouth who was impacted by the trustee's decision.

"I plan to look into all legal remedies, including filing an injunction to stop the enforcement of this vote," Pack said.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.