Austin ISD school rezoning proposals would split southwest neighborhood

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Christy Reddish opened the gate her backyard fence and walked down a mowed path of grass to the creek behind her fence. 

She has fond memories here. Her sons’ tree fort overlooks the stones filling the dry creek bed, and she recounts the family Christmas cards they’ve taken in this exact spot. 

Yet lately, the creek has become divisive. 

Earlier this month, Austin ISD announced it’s considering using the creek as a dividing line to determine which elementary students in the Shady Hollow neighborhood will go to a new school, and which will stay at Baranoff Elementary.

“That’s just a big concern for us because our kids live and play together, we do carpool, we do afterschool care,” Reddish said. 

Case in point, her backyard. Friends and their kids from all over the neighborhood filled it on a Monday after school. Nearly all were discussing the proposed change. 

“I just couldn’t, I couldn’t believe that this would even be on the table,” said Roxy Bribiesca, whose children would be rezoned from Baranoff to Kocurek Elementary.

“You would go to different areas of the neighborhood and the kids wouldn’t know each other,” added Julie Jensen. 

Currently, Baranoff at 126 percent capacity and Kiker at 154 percent capacity are overcrowded.

Come 2020, the district’s newest elementary will open in the city’s southwest corner, with the hope of relieving the overcapacity schools.

With it, comes plans for a grand reshuffling. 

Some students from both Kiker and Baranoff will be pulled to the new shool. Meanwhile, other Baranoff students will go to Kocurek, and some Cowan students will go to Boone. 

“We like to look at whole communities when it’s possible, but when we have a very large community, such as shady hollow, that’s not always possible to do,” said Beth Wilson, AISD’s Planning and Assets Management Executive Director.

Others in neighborhoods closer to Baranoff said the school’s overcrowding is having a negative impact on students. 

Jennifer Kratky said there’s crowding on the playground, classrooms, and cafeteria, where her daughter doesn’t get to eat lunch until 1:30 p.m. Other students start as early as 10 a.m.

Then there are the parking problems. 

“The worst problem we have is illegal parking, so that’s actually affecting the safety of all the children,” Kratky said. “People are parking in red zones, they’re actually blocking the intersections, they’re blocking the crosswalk.”

How to resolve the zoning challenges is still being figured out. The school board is not expected to vote on the new school boundaries until the end of the year. 

They’ll be in place at the start of the 2020 school year.

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