Thursday, June 2, 2016

What Does Lake Highlands Get?

The last time we checked in on the drama surrounding enrollment growth in Lake Highlands schools, we asked, "What Does Lake Highlands Want?" The answer was impossible to discern. It was easier to say what was not wanted. Some faction or other rejected pretty much any and every proposal that would relieve overcrowding in the area's elementary schools.

The way things go in situations like this, when a community can't decide for itself, someone is going to decide for them. In this case, the burden is on the Richardson ISD administrators and school board. Although a final decision hasn't been made about the exact grade configuration, the RISD is planning to build a new elementary school on Walnut Hill Ln at White Rock Trail.

At the May 31 school board meeting, it was also announced that the RISD is pursuing land acquisition for a second new elementary school in the area bounded by Abrams Road, Royal Lane and I-635.

The more I think about this, the more it all makes sense. If enrollment is growing, and it appears permanent, you build more schools. D'oh. Neighborhood schools, schools kids can walk to, schools small enough for kids not to get lost in, all these are generally considered good. When population grows, building more schools is the solution that best preserves that good.

Of course there will be anxiety and pushback when school boundaries are redrawn. There is always pushback to any change. The secret to success is to do what's right for the long term, even if it causes pain in the short term. Don't focus on trying to minimize short term pushback. Resistance to change will eventually fade. At worst, in seven years there will be 100% turnover in the students in any elementary school. In a decade or so, almost all of the families will turn over. Future students, future families, for decades to come, will think of the new schools as their own, as proud of them in their turn as current families are proud of their current schools.

What's right for the long term in Lake Highlands is to build more schools. Which is why I am encouraged by something school board trustee Eron Linn said: "We need to do what's best for kids." Keep that in mind and everything will work out in the end.