HPISD Officials Answer Questions Regarding Enrollment Policy Change

Highland Park ISD is discussing opening enrollment to allow children of faculty to attend its schools.
The board has been researching and discussing the idea since January, and if approved, the policy would slowly phase in.

The draft policy would allow non-resident, full-time professional contracted employees – including teachers, librarians, counselors, and professional staff – to apply for their child to transfer into HPISD schools.
The board heard a presentation on May 15 regarding the enrollment idea and will vote on the policy on June 12.

Below are some questions surrounding the policy as officials begin the initial planning process.

Why is this enrollment issue suddenly on the table in Highland Park ISD?
It’s not a new issue internally, as the HPISD human resource department began researching ideas for teacher retention and recruitment in the spring of 2017. As the concept has gained steam, the board brought the approach to the attention of the public in an email blast May 11. In researching the issue, the district found that most, if not all, Texas districts allow employees to enroll their children to attend, according to officials.

Won’t this create overcrowding in HPISD classrooms?
Brenda West, the executive director of human resources for HPISD, said at a May 15 meeting that there is “no intent to go over” current classroom sizes in the district. If a classroom reaches a certain number of students, a newly-enrolled child will not be placed.

The district’s official statement on the matter states that “acceptance would be dependent upon the availability of classroom seats so as not to interfere with class-size requirements.”

Which students are eligible for transfer into HPISD?
If passed, students of professionals that work at least 80 percent of the year will be allowed into the district, per officials. Additionally, the district will only allow transfers for grades kindergarten through fourth grade for the 2018-19 school year.

Will the incoming transfer students be charged tuition?
The district will not be charging tuition for the transfer students. Per West, if a district charges tuition, it waives the right to receive any additional state funding.

How does HPISD’s staff feel about the possibility of additional students?
Officials surveyed district staff members and found that 75 percent of HPISD employees surveyed said it would “significantly impact recruiting professional staff to the district,” while more than half said it would significantly impact their decision to remain a district employee.

Staff members would need to make an application each year for their student, who would also need to meet specific attendance and discipline requirements. If an employee leaves during the middle of the year, the student would be allowed to continue through the six-weeks grading period, similar to residents who move out of the district mid-year.

Per the survey, approximately 20 employees indicated that they would seek to enroll their elementary school-age children during the 2018-19 school year.

How is the public responding to this possible change?
It’s early –residents have only been aware of the proposed idea since May 11 – but those in attendance at the May 15 meeting were nearly all opposed to the possible enrollment change. Several residents spoke during the public comments section, all in opposition. Issues addressed were overcrowding and a possible increase in tax dollars.

Timothy Glaze

A journalism graduate of the University of North Texas, Tim has called Dallas home his entire life. He has covered news, schools, sports, and politics in Lake Dallas, Denton, Plano, Allen, Little Elm, and Dallas since 2009 for several publications - The Lake Cities Sun, The Plano Star Courier, the Denton Record Chronicle, and now, People Newspapers. He lives in Denton County with his wife and three dogs.

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