At its regular meeting Dec. 10, the Lewisville ISD Board of Trustees officially approved Mill Street Elementary as the name for the new school being built on Mill Street, a name which had previously earned scorn from the community, as well as approving next year’s academic calendar and 10 new courses for the next academic year.
After significant discussion, the board decided to not approve two new elementary school rezoning maps in Flower Mound. Where the board had approved rezoning maps in Lewisville surrounding the imminent closure of Hedrick and College Street elementary schools, which will happen effective next calendar year, board members said approving the plans regarding the elementary schools in Flower Mound, which are meant to address problems further down the line, would be too hasty.
After significant explanation to justify the decision, the board approved Mill Street Elementary as the name for the new elementary school currently being constructed on Mill Street, which will replace College Street Elementary next year. Board member Kristi Hassett voted against approving the name.
The approval of Mill Street Elementary as a name for the new school is a decision that has spanned the past three board meetings. In October, when board members Katherine Sells, Tracy Scott Miller and Allison Lassahn, who searched for the name as a subcommittee, the rest of the board asked them to request community input. Community input came all on its own a month later when four community members spoke to request the board not use Mill Street Elementary as the name, with one speaker referring to the idea as “a joke.”
The board then surveyed the community to see if a particular name was preferred. Options listed on the survey included Mill Street, Bethel, Milliken or Pecan Grove as the names for the elementary school, but did not include other community suggestions such as Kealy, Legacy, Old Town or Lone Star. The survey did request write-in names, but only 46 out of the 581 respondents did so.
According to background material, Mill Street earned a plurality of the vote with 34.25 percent, followed by Pecan Grove with 30.98 percent, Bethel with 14.8 percent and Milliken with 12.91 percent. These four options were selected as the most historically significant. Miller appealed to Mill Street’s historic significance to Lewisville, having served as the main highway between Dallas and Denton for several years. He also explicitly argued against a more generic name.
“Old Town, Legacy were really things that the area was trying to get away from. We would essentially be protecting a motif that is really going to go away,” he said. “We were very much in agreement that Lone Star was not what we wanted one of our schools to be … We just felt like it was a little too easy to become non-unique. Lone Star Texas, Lone Star Beer, Lone Star this – and Mill Street, where some don’t like it, is still unique in its geography.”
The board also approved 10 new courses to add to their catalogue next year, including multivariable calculus and Korean language courses. Japanese 1 and 2 and a new college transition course will only be available at The Colony High School and Lewisville High School, respectively.
The board also officially approved the 2019-20 academic calendar, with the first day of school set for Aug. 13, 2019. In previous workshops, the board and LISD employees had expressed happiness with the new early start date calendar implemented this year, and a desire for next year’s calendar to be similar, which it is. Spring Break is set for March 16-20, 2020, and the last grading period ends May 21, 2020.
The board also approved a guaranteed maximum price of $4.6 million for the 10-classroom addition to Vickery Elementary School, which was provide for in the 2017 bond package, and received annual updates on its finances and bilingual program.
The comprehensive financial report for fiscal year 2018, conducted by Whitley Penn, had no major findings. Net revenues were $558.2 million, representing a decrease of $75.6 million from the previous year. Property tax revenue was up $39.9 million as property values rise across the district, but Texas contributed $29.6 million less. The majority of the decrease was represented by a $102.3 million reduction in operating grants revenue from GASB no. 75 entries. More than 92 percent of the district’s revenue came from property taxes in FY 2018. You can read the full audit here.
What the board did not pass, after discussion that totaled almost 40 minutes between the two items, were new districting maps in the western portion of the district. Both items were tabled. One of these plans rearranges the zoning between Bridlewood and Flower Mound elementary schools, and the other moves a new development, the Villas at Southgate on the shore of Grapevine Lake, from Bluebonnet Elementary, which is near capacity, to Old Settlers Elementary.
Both of these zoning items were first presented at the Sept. 24 work session, which is where the recently passed Lewisville rezoning items were first presented. These items were considered less urgent since they didn’t involve a school that is closing at the end of the year, and so they were staggered a month back in the schedule. Chief schools officer Joseph Coburn went through the same process of holding extensive community meetings at the affected schools to explain exactly what would happen over the past weeks.
Where the board passed the rezoning items surrounding the closing elementary schools in Lewisville without much discussion, they spent several minutes talking about the problems they had with these items. Most members voiced concerns about the plans, and almost all voted to table them and revisit the rezoning at a later date – board member Jenny Proznik voted against tabling one of them. Miller voiced concerns about breaking up Double Oak, and said he would have preferred a map that was not presented to the community.
“If I were going to split Double Oak and create some kind of bifrication, which I’m opposed to, I would make it different – in fact, I would make it to look like one of the initial plans we had,” Miller said. “But that’s not what was presented to community, so it’s not an option.”
Almost all board members expressed concern about reacting to development projects that hadn’t been fleshed out yet, such as the Southgate Villas.
“I’m really hesitant to approve this one, although I don’t have a problem with the map itself,” Lassahn said, referring to the second item. “I’m worried that they [Bluebonnet] are going to lose 80 students this next year, because I’m worried that some of these developments aren’t ready to push students in there, so they’re going to lose these students, they’re going to lose these staff members, they’re going to lose the dreaded specials, which really kind of stinks … From what I can see, I’m worried we’re jumping the gun on this one a little bit.”
The LISD Board of Trustees meets once monthly, usually with several informational sessions in between. You can find a full schedule of their meetings here.