A Little More on the Lake Highlands-Richardson ISD Debate

Lake Highlands school

Just a few things, after a day and a night of comments have rolled in, and after a few Lake Highlands friends and I talked.

Firstly, I’d like to congratulate most of you (save one, but we talked it out) for remaining civil. From what I understand, this issue is contentious and has even resulted in the ending of friendships.

Secondly, and related to the anger, is this: Both sides can feel the way they do about the issue, and both feelings can still be valid. You can feel that your children would be perfectly safe at that school, and the other side can feel their children wouldn’t be. You can feel that you were heard and the other side feel frustrated and that they weren’t. That’s the meaning of different perspectives.

Sadly, I fear that one of the things everyone tells me they love about White Rock Valley – the neighborly attitude and friendly atmosphere – is falling by the wayside. That’s a shame. A home is at least a 30-year commitment, and it seems as if this school may be consigning some to 30 years of living next to people they can’t forgive. Words can cause rifts, or they can be a balm that smooths over differences so neighbors can still be friends. Some would do well to remember this before they hop online to comment.

Thirdly, I reached out to the district, and printed verbatim its response. Tim Clark, the district’s spokesman, emailed me this morning with some clarifications, which I’m going to again print verbatim at the bottom of this piece. I am happy to talk to someone (at length) about their feelings about the school, but I did provide both links and words of the district’s side. I’ve reached out to We Need a School (if anyone knows a member of this group and can nudge them to look at their Facebook messages, that would be super helpful), and as soon as they respond, I will be providing their perspective as well in a separate piece.

And now, as promised, Clark’s response:

“The article suggests that a committee was formed to hear out concerns related to the site, which is not accurate. There’s a FAQ on the LH Growth website that goes into more detail, but Dr. Stone met with neighborhood association leaders and WRE parent group leaders to hear their feedback and ideas related to attendance boundaries of the new school. There is not a plan for the group to meet again or to work to arrive at recommendations.

A group of stakeholders called the Lake Highlands Reflector Committee was formed in February and met in the spring to arrive at formal recommendations related to elementary enrollment growth that eventually led to RISD pursuing construction of two new elementary schools in Lake Highlands. There is comprehensive information on the work of the Lake Highlands Reflector Committee available on the LH Growth website.

The meeting with neighborhood and parent group leaders occurred last week and represented another avenue to communicate with and receive feedback from the leadership of the different stakeholder groups impacted by the eventual attendance boundaries of the new school. Dr. Stone will be sharing the feedback from the meeting at an upcoming RISD Board meeting.

Also, all current trustees have visited the WRT site.”

 

6 Comment

  • “The meeting with neighborhood and parent group leaders occurred last week and represented another avenue to communicate with and receive feedback from the leadership of the different stakeholder groups impacted by the eventual attendance boundaries of the new school. Dr. Stone will be sharing the feedback from the meeting at an upcoming RISD Board meeting.”

    I was at this meeting. They took copious notes. There a working session next week, and I have been told they will be discussing this meeting during that working session.

    if you would like a comment – I can provide one.

  • I believe the District continues to do itself a disservice when they reference the Reflector Committee by not mentioning that a majority of the Reflector Committee recommended a 5/6 model. I recognize it was a slim majority but the District consistently ignores it all together, which leads many to believe the reflector committee was a sham.

  • This latest statement from the RISD is the perfect example of why the RISD has totally lost the trust of the WRE neighborhoods regarding the WRT school (some of which actually may have supported the school if it had been handled differently). To begin, the RISD’s statement heavily implies that the result of the Reflector Committee’s work was what “eventually led to RISD pursuing construction of two new elementary schools in Lake Highlands.” This is absolutely false, and is a slap in the face of the many people who invested weeks of their personal time to to work on the Reflector Committee and provide RISD with its recommendations. The actual recommendation of the Reflector Committee was to pursue a 5th/6th Grade Center at LHJH, to service the entire Lake Highlands community and avoid the need for painful boundary redraws, and NOT to pursue the new elementary school option. RISD chose to flatly ignore the work of the Reflector Committee and pursue the new school at WRT (which, of course, gave the distinct appearance that RISD was going to put a school at WRT from the start, no matter what the community wanted).

    Then the RISD Board said that it would consider the White Rock Trail location as a split K-2/3-6 school with the existing WRE location (similar to what is the case at RISD’s Brentfield). The Board was presented with substantial feedback from the WRE community (from both North and South of Walnut Hill) that it wanted to see the split K-2/3-6 approach in order to keep our neighborhoods together. People came out and spoke to the Board, wrote to the Board, and presented surveys from our community to the Board in favor of the split K-2/3-6 approach for WRE and the White Rock Trail location. Lost on the Board was this — the WRE community actually came together in support of a unified solution; they didn’t want the WRE community broken up, and they wanted the split K-2/3-6 approach for WRE. In the end, the Board AGAIN ignored the community, again with rationalizations about how all their cherry-picked research led them in favor of K-6 alone (despite what currently exists in RISD at Brentfield).

    the RISD Board has jerked this community around with its self-congratulatory claims of thoughtfully listening to the community and hearing concerns about WRT. Indeed, the boundary they drew for the new WRT school was so unfair and inequitable, it immediately lost the support of the few people who might have supported the new school, and led to WRT to start being called “Northlake 2.0.” The RISD Board clearly wants to do their own thing, no matter how much they divide our neighborhoods, and have shown themselves incapable of coming up with any sort of creative solutions–even when the community comes together to hold different ones up in front of their faces. Maybe the WRT school needs to be blocked to force RISD to come back to the table and actually listen to the Lake Highlands community, and explore other options, such as a 5th/6th grade center, or additional expansion at WRE.

  • The fact that Tim Clark references the reflector committee’s input (which voted in favor of a 5/6 school) as evidence of listening to the community shows what a sham the RISD is.

    Let me make this simpler by analogy:

    “What do you want to eat tonight?” *56% say pizza* “Thank you for participating. In light of these results, we’re going to have burgers. You’ve been heard!”

    Dr. Jeannie Stone and Mr Clark are a stain on the community and should step down immediately.

  • The sad fact is that RISD is a total disaster. While there are great people all over RISD at all levels, they have failed Lake Highlands for decades and it’s time to move on. Let RISD focus on Richardson and LHISD focus on Lake Highlands. Texas Education Code Chapter 13 provides the path for detachment.

    It’s time to stop expecting people who don’t care about Lake Highlands to fix things, and time to fix them on our own.

  • Hi Bethany! We appreciate you covering an important topic for the Lake Highlands Community. We provided a response to your Facebook Message shortly after it was sent – thanks for reaching out. Residents do have differing opinions on the proposed solutions, and we look forward to your follow up article. Thanks!