Austin ISD considering attendance boundary changes to deal with school overcapacity

Education

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As Austin ISD deals with a shift in where its families are living, its classrooms aren’t always keeping up.

Monday, district leaders unanimously approved to look into a plan of keeping schools between 85 and 110% of their intended capacity.

The plan promises to explore attendance boundary changes for the over-capacity schools — and also aims to reduce portable use by 25%.

“Overcrowding causes problems with the cafeteria, with the gym, with the pickup and drop off area, and of course you have portables adding onto the school at that point,” said AISD Planning and Assets Management Executive Director Beth Wilson.

In the 2018-19 school year, 16 elementary schools, two middle schools, and four high schools were all above 110% capacity.

At the start of this school year, Chad Chamberlain moved to a west Austin neighborhood with his wife and four boys, in part because of the schools.

“The education is great, I mean that’s why we basically moved to the area right, is because of the school rating,” Chamberlain said.

But their new school, Hill Elementary, is also very crowded.

With 1,000 students and plenty of portables, it’s currently at 145% of capacity.

“It’s definitely crowded, in regards to square footage, I guess per student,” Chamberlain said.

A new demographic report is expected to come out in February that’ll give district leaders a better idea of which schools are expected to see continued growth, and which aren’t.

Wilson said once that report is released, district staff will begin the process of identifying which schools should have their boundaries adjusted.

There is no timeline on how long the process could take.

Chamberlain is worried Hill could be included, and doesn’t want his family to have to start over at a new school.

“It would be unfortunate,” he said. “Hopefully it doesn’t change things for us personally.”

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