AP NEWS

Fort Bend ISD trustees approve Sugar Land middle-school re-zoning measure

March 30, 2019

A middle school re-zoning proposal to address potential campus overcrowding by shifting several hundred students between two Sugar Land campuses roughly 4.4 miles apart was approved by Fort Bend ISD trustees Monday, March 25.

According to agenda documents, approximately 343 students will be re-zoned from Fort Settlement Middle School to First Colony Middle School beginning next year. Of that number, 107 rising eighth-graders will have the option of staying at their current school. However, the district will not provide transportation to and from school every day to students who opt to stay at their present school per board policy.

Currently, enrollment at Fort Settlement Middle School is at 89 percent of design capacity (1,536 students) and First Colony is at 63 percent (958 students). Once the students are shifted to their new campus next year, Fort Settlement Middle School enrollment is expected to drop to 75 percent design capacity (1,298 students) with First Colony enrollment expected to reach 88 percent capacity (1,328 students), agenda documents state. The re-zoning measure does create a feeder pattern division next year that will split enrollment between the two schools with roughly 45 percent to attend Fort Settlement and 55 percent to attend First Colony.

A number of parents came to address the board and voice their opinions. Some parents opposed the measure because their children had already been re-zoned between schools previously and others debated whether the re-zoning was necessary. Others came to voice support for the measure.

Alysa Jarvis, who said she was a member of the 2019 Fort Bend ISD Leadership Academy, was among those who spoke in favor of the re-zoning. She also voiced appreciation for trustees.

“Board members, I support your efforts to balance the attendance of these two schools as you have diligently determined,” Jarvis said. “Parents, if you disagree with this board or any of this board’s decisions in the State of Texas you are 100 percent within your rights to home educate your children.”

Karen Sun, who is a parent to a First Colony student, said she and many of her neighbors were supportive of the re-zoning proposal.

“Making the right decision isn’t always easy. It takes wisdom and courage. In the last few weeks, we have witnessed several personal attacks against board members on the internet. We want you to know that we are here to support you. You have put in tremendous efforts in serving our district,” Sun said. “You are our true leaders.”

During board member comments, trustee Kristin Tassin elaborated on a recent “opinion article” she had posted on social media that was critical of a group of parents who fiercely opposed the re-zoning. The parent group, led by former TV reporter turned media consultant Wayne Dolcefino, gathered together roughly a dozen parents and a few students to protest in front of the administrative offices before a board meeting last February.

Tassin wrote that trustees were being bullied by parent protests, the involvement of a media consultant and recent open record requests filed by the parent group for emails and text messages sent by trustees over the last four months.

“Any board member up here can tell you this is not the first time that we have experienced threats and intimidation at this level,” Tassin said. “I have been to community meetings where our police officers have had to step in and other community members have talked about to us in the past about feeling threatened or intimidated and that is just not right. So, my intent was to call the behavior of adults, what it is, and to call it out as being wrong.”

Tassin said she had received “overwhelming support” since she posted her editorial.

Board president Jason Burdine voiced his appreciation for board members and offered kind words to parents, many of whom appeared distressed by months of intense discussions over various re-zoning options.

“This job is hard. I can also attest that we do the best we can for all students and all of us sitting up here, we care,” Burdine said.

Trustees voted unanimously to approve the re-zoning proposal.