LEAGUE CITY

Some parents have launched a petition drive against parts of a plan to balance student populations by shifting lines that determine which Clear Creek Independent School District campuses children are assigned to attend.

The parents say they’re worried about the quality of their children’s education; district officials argue the parents are focusing too much on one set of numbers determined by the state of Texas, however.

The conflict raises a question about what parents should look at when assessing a campus. The answer is more than one thing, a professor of education argues.

On its face, this dispute boils down to one number — 11.

Gilmore Elementary School received a rating of 94 overall, 11 above Hall Elementary’s score of 83 overall, according to the 2018 Texas Education Agency accountability ratings. The schools finished 2017 even closer with ratings of 89 and 95.

If Clear Creek Independent School District’s Board of Trustees OKs new campus boundaries on Feb. 25, then some students living in the Rustic Oaks neighborhood will transfer from Gilmore Elementary School to Hall Elementary School next school year.

And the parents are less than thrilled by that prospect.

“We moved to this neighborhood so my kids could go to Gilmore,” said Karen Banquet, a Rustic Oaks resident.

More than 60 parents have signed a petition against the move, citing concern about lower accountability scores and the fact that Hall is an older building, Banquet said.

Hall Elementary also uses portable buildings to teach students, Banquet said.

District officials argue all their schools are solid, and that there’s more to evaluating a school than just state accountability scores.

“Each school has its own unique flavor,” Trustee Jay Cunningham said.

The Clear Creek district isn’t alone in calling for more local accountability in evaluating schools. Local educators have increasingly developed local accountability measures and pushed for less focus on standardized testing.

Truly evaluating a school, however, requires a bit of both approaches, said Keith Butcher, a clinical assistance professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Houston.

“There are so many factors involved in whether a student has a positive school experience,” Butcher said. “One of the strongest indicators is a school’s climate and culture. And a lot of those factors can’t be foretold by looking at state assessment results. You have to look at other measures.”

At the same time, parents shouldn’t ignore state testing results either, Butcher said.

“You have to look at multiple measures, and I don’t mean contrived measures, or that schools should create their own assessments and accountability,” Butcher said. “These should be established school climate surveys and parent satisfaction surveys — validated instruments with some reliability in what’s reported.”

Leaders at Hall Elementary School noted the campus’ various clubs and organizations, including a STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math club, as well as individual attention as strengths of the school.

The school next school year also will become the district’s second E-STEM magnet school, officials said.

“We feel like we give students a strong foundation and help them grow in their passions,” Principal Stephanie King said.

And parents at the school on Thursday agreed.

“It’s an awesome school,” Keri Dabney said. “I understand their trepidation, but it’s awesome. And King is an excellent principal.”

A committee of 32 parents and residents has proposed moving the Rustic Oaks neighborhood to Hall Elementary as part of revised boundary maps spurred, in large part, because of Florence Campbell Elementary School’s August opening.

Construction of Florence Campbell Elementary School, the 27th elementary school in the district, is one of many projects funded through a $487 million bond voters approved in 2017, officials said.

After a series of town hall meetings, the committee actually revised its recommendations, reducing the number of schools affected and decreasing how many students will move because of the changes.

Parents evaluating an elementary school shouldn’t just focus on the school, but also the middle schools and high schools they feed in to, Butcher said.

Matt deGrood: 409-683-5230; matt.degrood@galvnews.com

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(8) comments

Diane Turski

My family has been very satisfied with Hall Elementary School! My experience has been that the principal sets the tone for the school and Principal King has done a wonderful job of making Hall a welcoming learning environment that encourages each student to excel in their studies. I have been especially impressed with the energy and involvement of the parents (and other family members) as volunteers during the various events the school participates in - STEM Club, Room Moms, Super Dads, Multicultural Night, Spirit Stick sales, holiday parties, Decades dances, and Spring Carnival to name a few that I have volunteered for as a family member. The PTA has been especially effective at encouraging parental involvement. Congratulations to Hall for becoming a STEM Magnet school!

Rusty Schroeder

If they are in fear of their kids changing elementary schools over a TEA rating, they would be in horror or downright petrified if their kids had the future possibility of attending Santa Fe High School with our 63 TEA score. These parents are the reason today's youth are scared of their shadows. At least their weren't pictures of crying parents this time, Go Indians.

George Croix

I’m so old I remember when schools believed that the strongest indicator of success was whether the students actually learned anything. I’m pretty sure I never attended one where a culture score was important, but it has been a few decades....

Rusty Schroeder

George, you need to volunteer to be a substitute for a day at an area Jr. High. We could probably both learn something about today's students. Problem is the ISD's probably wouldn't accept us, our qualifications are probably out of date,,, :)

Lena Gilley

League City keeps issuing out building permits! There motto fill every last open green space there is! Schools can’t keep up ! Roads etc etc . Think we have enough new subdivisions! Can’t wait to sell my home! Get the hell out of dodge!

Rusty Schroeder

They are going west now, in 10 years there will be no prairie separating League City from Alvin & Friendswood. I absolutely hate it for a myriad of reasons. But I will give them credit for being progressive years ago in establishing city annexing rights.

George Croix

Rusty, I’m pretty sure that most of the problems at schools with students started at home, and I doubt either of us would get any invites to supper there to study the problems....
Know some folks who do teach and have great faith that the climate they describe is accurate, at least where they are....
Somebody else here not long ago said attitude came in when discipline left the school buildings....
Lot of truth there....

Christine Parizo

Fact check time! ALL of Rustic Oaks is affected, not just “some.” Karen “Banquet” does not exist. The source’s name was misspelled. Additionally one of the SBAC members is under investigation for using the SBAC to rezone his kids to Gilmore, helping to create a domino effect. He also canvassed his neighborhood to build support for his plan, using information he gleaned from his position in the SBAC. Parents are upset and rightfully so.

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