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Hays CISD readies for new high school rezoning process

Rezoning students is the next challenge for Moe and Gene Johnson High School. Public forums will be held for citizens in the coming months

With the grand opening of the new elementary school in August, Hays CISD is continuing its planning and development for Moe and Gene Johnson High, the third four-year high school in the district.

Voters approved the 413,500 square foot campus in May 2017 and the projected opening will be in 2019. However, school attendance rezoning is to be made by August or September.

The next step of the process is to pick a mascot and colors for the school which will be decided by students through a joint process with HCISD officials and a high school student committee, said Tim Savoy, Hays CISD public information officer. This process will begin this spring before rezoning starts up in the fall.

“Rezoning is always a challenge especially at the high school level because people get connected with the school they are at,” Savoy said. “We anticipate there will be a lot of interest in this discussion and we will have a dedicated webpage to the process and our procedure will include at least two public hearings and more if necessary.”

The decision will also include whether or not the new school will have a senior class its first year, and what options seniors at the other two high schools have in regard to rezoning, Savoy said. The district is currently working on the logistics on how to transfer students to the new school.

“We won’t have someone going into their senior year of high school forced to a brand new school,” Savoy said. “That just isn’t fair when you think about activities, potential scholarships and connections that were built throughout their time at their respective school.”

Christine Molis, HCISD chairwoman of the 2017 elementary rezoning committee, said the committee did a good job at placing students when rezoning for Uhland Elementary.

But Molis said she believes there will be more public interest in the high school.

“It’s been 11 years since we’ve had to go through rezoning of a high school and people will have some concerns,” Molis said. “With the new high school being in close proximity with Hays High, I think the biggest challenge will be making the boundaries work for the students.”

The school will have a capacity of 2,250 students with room for growth at opening. Before ground was broken, the district had four 80-acre plots of land to choose for development.

The decision ultimately came down to the northwest and northeast plots of land, with the final decision for development favoring the area along FM 967, which has a high population and the infrastructure to accommodate the school.

The northwest site on 967 has EMS and a fire station facilities close by and a main road connecting through the county, while the northeast selection currently isn’t fully developed for a high school.

“When we did the elementary zoning, we were given input where possible growth was going to be in the county,” Molis said. “That’s going to be taken into consideration down the line with new schools when the district decides where to develop.”

Savoy said he urges concerned parents or students to email district officials about any questions they have regarding the new rezoning process. School board meetings also hold a designated time for comments from the public, which can be used to help move the discussion forward.

“The community owns the school district and the community gets to make all these decisions,” Savoy said. “There is always opportunity to get involved and we will be working with the kids at the high school to move onto the next step of picking our mascot and colors before the rezoning.”

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