The Board of Trustees of the Allen Independent School District (ISD) voted Monday night to rezone enrollment boundaries so that it could repurpose two elementary schools on the east side of town, angering parents and prompting one school board member to resign abruptly.
As previously reported in The Dallas Express, the school board claimed it needed to deal with an acute overcrowding issue on the growing west side of town while simultaneously meeting a state mandate to provide daylong pre-kindergarten.
However, it is unclear how the board’s decision would address those issues since there is currently no plan to build more schools on the west side.
The district stated that it would transition Anderson Elementary School into an early-childhood development campus. Roundtree Elementary School, it said, would take on “non-instructional use.”
Parents with children attending the two schools have been attending board meetings and protesting against the possible move for months.
“Neighborhood schools are the center of Texas education,” said Holly Barnard, a clinical child psychologist and Anderson parent, speaking with NBC 5 after the board’s vote.
“That’s what it should be. That’s the way it’s always been,” Barnard said. “They just don’t want to touch certain neighborhoods on the west side. They don’t want to touch them.”
School Board Trustee Vatsa Ramanathan registered against the rezoning proposal. Following the vote, he resigned from his seat, telling NBC 5 that he quit because of the process that led to Monday’s meeting rather than the particular outcome.
Expressing frustration, district parent Michelle Boren told Fox 4, “They told us upfront they were looking at the entire school district because there is overcrowding on the west side. Yet here it is. They are taking away two schools on the east side. Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.”
The district also claimed that a budget shortfall of $5 million factored into the decision. The deficit assertion prompted Boren to criticize Allen ISD leaders for uprooting roughly 2,000 students and teachers on the east side.
“The numbers tell us: Number one, our administration is bloated. We need to cut back on some administration,” Boren stated.
While roughly 10% of the district’s $205 million budget for the 2021–2022 academic year went to administration costs, the amount pales in comparison to the $125 million budgeted for “school leadership” expenses at Dallas ISD, a district with over $2 billion allocated for operations, only a fraction of which actually goes towards teacher salaries and instruction materials.
Criticism of school boards over budget allocations has come increasingly to the fore as thousands of veteran teachers continue to flee the profession, citing inadequate pay and a lack of support from local and state education leaders, as previously reported in The Dallas Express.