Parents, school district clash over high school rezoning

BAYTOWNÑOn Dec. 16, the Goose Creek CISD cancelled a scheduled rezoning meeting at Sterling High due to inclement weather.
Last Tuesday, there was more wind and rain but the meeting went on. In what turned out to be a duplication of the previous weekÕs meeting at Lee High School, parents spoke out against two proposed rezoning plans designed to accommodate the third high school.
AttendeesÕ main issue of contention was that under both plans they believed that a disproportionate number of economically disadvantaged (ED) students would be sent to Lee.

Currently, Lee has a 62% student population in this group while Sterling as a 37% ED student population. Under the two proposals, Lee would rise to 77% while Sterling and the high school would be between 53 and 55%.
Homeowners in Lakewood said that either plan their property values would go down if their students were forced to change to Lee. Parents also complained about the lack of citizen involved on the high school committee, saying that there should have been as much citizen involvement as at the junior high and elementary committees.
There have been recommendations that Lee be turned into either a 9th grade campus or a vocational campus to help balance campus diversity.
Parents predicted a decline in academic opportunities at Lee and eventual academic failure at the campus if the proportion of ED students did not change.
However, past results on standardized testing at the school would not indicate this.
According to the Texas Education Agency, ED students had an 84% passage rate in reading compared with 87% school wide. In social science the group was 83%, while as a whole Lee had an 86% passage rate. There was a six-percent difference in math with ED rating a 49% while, as a whole Lee was 55%. The largest gap between ED students and students as a whole was in social science with a 49% to 58% comparison.
In no subject were ED students the lowest-ranking subclass. ED students also had an 88.5% completion rate, high than the school as a whole and 93.1% attendance rate (same as the school average). During the 2004-05 school year (the last year recorded) ED students had 9.7% of them complete advanced/dual credit courses. As a whole Lee High had a 14.7% completion rate.
Parents argued that there is still time to draw new boundaries. The district countered, saying that the 14th elementary and Bowie will open for classes in the Fall while the 3rd high school and new Highlands Junior High opens in fall 2008.
Even if boundaries are redrawn, it is likely that all high school students living in Highlands will attend the new high school.