A word from Victoria I.S.D. Supt. Quintin Shepherd

Closing Thoughts: Attendance boundaries

The following is an article provided by Victoria I.S.D. Supt. Quintin Shepherd.

This school year the Victoria I.S.D. will again revisit our attendance boundaries with the goal of making a recommendation early in the 2023 calendar year. The first and most important thing I want you to know is that we believe most of our community will not be impacted this year. You will recall that we shifted attendance boundaries on February 25, 2020, after a several-month process of data analysis and community input. I will quickly review that process because our process this year will be very similar.

We began by collecting data internally (building capacity, building usage reports, mapping software, attendance and enrollment data, transportation data, etc.) and collecting new data with the help of Templeton Demographics. This firm helped analyze housing data, density data, new construction data, birth data, etc. Our board and district focus on differentiating ‘complicated’ work and ‘complex’ work. Complicated has just one right answer and requires expertise and complex is ultimately unknowable. Collecting and analyzing data is complicated and deciding what to do about it is complex. This is an important distinction as it relates to our process of making decisions. While the administration began working through the data and analysis (complicated), we also convened a boundary analysis task force to face the complex. They were charged with making a recommendation to the school board. Again, an important distinction, they were not making the final decision but making a recommendation for consideration. The task force began meeting shortly after the start of school to receive data updates and began their work in earnest in October to create various scenarios. By early December, three viable scenarios had been created. Each scenario was designed to provide a more equitable utilization of our campuses by balancing projected student enrollment across each campus using enrollment projections for the next five school years. In order to balance the projected campus enrollment and maximize campus utilization efficiency, the three scenarios would require boundary changes that would change the attendance zone for approximately 700 to 900 elementary students, and approximately 200 to 300 middle school students. The group met again in January and came to a consensus on a recommendation. After that, we held several community forums to share the plan and solicit any questions from the broader community. This would give us a chance to make modifications, if necessary, before going to the Board of Trustees. No major concerns were raised at the community meetings and the Board met in February and approved the recommendation from the task force. The task force recommended at that same time that attendance boundaries should be revisited every three years moving forward (as it had been over a decade since we last worked through this process and that resulted in a substantial impact to our community).

The process you just read will be very similar as we embark on the journey again this year. As stated at the beginning of this article, we believe most of our community will not be affected by this cycle. There have been a few significant developments that necessitate this conversation with our community. Very soon, we will be asking for anyone in our community who wants to be a part of this conversation to step forward and serve on our task force. For those that have served on task forces in the past five years since I have been here, you know the work is sometimes arduous, sometimes frustrating, is always rewarding, it can be a learning experience to know more about the district, and because of the complexity of the issue we face, it is filled with ambiguity. People who have been successful on previous task forces tend to be naturally curious, open-minded, and can work well in groups. In short, if you think you know the answer before we get started, you will find this process very frustrating and ultimately unfulfilling. If you want to learn more about our district and have the opportunity to shape our future, I hope you will consider submitting your name! Keep an eye on social media and watch our local media to sign up in the next few weeks.

By Victoria I.S.D. Supt. Quintin Shepherd