Attendance zone shifts may impact ESL students

Attendance zones at a handful of Hays CISD elementary schools will have new boundaries in the 2018 school year, which could affect dual-language learners.

On Dec. 11, 2017, Hays CISD’s board of trustees adopted new attendance zone boundaries for elementary schools.

Although the new map was adopted, board members including President Merideth Keller and Trustee Esperanza Orosco expressed concern about students in the dual language program that could be displaced.

The motion to rezone certain schools was part of a larger effort to reduce overcrowding in the growing school district with the addition of Uhland Elementary School. The new campus is situated on High Road near Uhland, located between Hemphill Elementary and Camino Real Elementary.

With the new attendance zones there will be four major changes to the attendance map that affects students at Hemphill, Science Hall, Blanco Vista and Tobias elementary schools.

The concern was that students at the two-way dual language program at Blanco Vista might be moved to Hemphill, which only has a one-way dual language program.

The dual language two-way model is a language immersion program that has both English-language learners and students whose primary language is English. The two-way program is only available at Blanco Vista and Science Hall elementary schools.

The one-way model only has English language learners whose native language is Spanish; that  program is available at Camino Real, Hemphill and Tom Green elementary schools.

“I know dual-language families have to sign a contract stating their commitment to the program, so what is our commitment to them?” Orosco said at the meeting. “There is a difference in going from a two-way program to a one-way program.” 

Orosco says some parents are concerned about their children moving to a different type of language program and the transition required to adjust to a new teaching model.

At the time of the meeting, it was uncertain the extent of disruption the dual-language program would face due to student displacement.

However, in an email sent to the Hays Free Press on Jan. 9, Hays CISD Public Information Officer Tim Savoy said the district “may be able to bus all of the students who were zoned to Hemphill back to Blanco Vista for services.”

Students in the dual-language programs may have the option to stay in their special program.

Near the end of the meeting, Keller felt there lacked specifics on how dual language students would be affected.

“I’m ready to move forward with the zones, but not ready to be done with the conversation,” Keller said.

Students in the 5th grade in the upcoming school year, who would otherwise be rezoned also have special circumstances. They have the option to stay at their current school, if the appropriate transfer forms are submitted. However, transportation for these students may not be provided.

Notifications to parents and students about rezoning will be rolled out in upcoming weeks in January or February.

Comment on this Article

About Author

Comments are closed.