School board approves ‘Walnut Grove’ zoning

Trustees meet Oct. 17 to hear discussion regarding attendance boundaries

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Kaya Miller

As they listen to Dr. Greg Bradley, board members Jorden Dial, Dena Dixon and superindendent Holly Ferguson of Prosper ISD school board watch as Bradley goes through a slideshow regarding zoning boundaries, with district superintendent Holly Ferguson sitting to the far right of the other two members pictured. The board met Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. to discuss concerns brought up related to zoning boundaries, and decide on a finalized plan. “I came from Prosper High School to open Rock Hill as the new administrator, and I think opening new schools is awesome,” lead assistant principal at Rock Hill High School, Melissa Weiss, said. “It provides more opportunities for students — obviously things are shiny and new in the beginning, but Prosper High has an awesome building, and Rock Hill is still amazing. I think that change is inevitable, and with a district that’s growing at the rate that ours is, we have to open new schools.”

Reading Time: 6 minutes

After discussion and presentations, the Prosper ISD Board of Trustees came up with a newly drawn zoning boundary plan for the new high school to open in the fall of the 2023-2024 school year. The board meets on the third Monday of every month at 7 p.m., and parent and teacher concerns related to the zoning decisions were brought up at the Oct. 17 meeting, where the board listened to their feedback and decided on the final attendance boundaries for Walnut Grove High School. A detailed map of the zoning boundaries can be found on the official Walnut Grove website, here.

Audience members at the board meeting look toward the front of the room as Dr. Bradley presents the first of a series of alternate zoning plans. The previous plan has been adjusted to include the neighborhoods of Tucker Hill and those which are near the Mansions of Prosper in Walnut Grove’s zoning. (Kaya Miller)

The board gathered feedback from affected families through meetings and online forms about attendance zones and student choice in moving schools Oct. 6 – 13. The new principal for Walnut Grove’s first year will be officially announced Friday, Oct. 21, four days after the board meeting. Dr. Greg Bradley, the deputy superintendent of Prosper ISD, presented a series of slides at the meeting addressing issues with the proposed zoning, focusing on concerns regarding the estimated number of rising seniors that would choose to go to Walnut Grove.

“If you were dissatisfied with the original map, and wanted to stay at Prosper High School because we’re right across from it (Preston Rd.), we took (your opinions) into consideration, and this map reflects that,” Bradley said. “The second group (we heard from) lives in Tucker Hill, and towards the Mansions of Prosper, and they said they wanted to go to Walnut Grove. We took that feedback and created the map above, which created new numbers.”

Pictured above is the previous proposed zoning district for Walnut Grove. Now, the list has been changed to include some other neighborhoods, namely Tucker Hill. Among the areas included in the zoning are the neighborhoods Liliana, Frontier Estates, Lakes of LaCima, Mustang Lakes and Preston Hills. The board will discuss these (Prosper ISD)

Eighth – 10th graders who fall inside the zoning boundaries will be rezoned to Walnut Grove, while current juniors will have the choice to attend their current school or Walnut Grove. A parent who spoke at the meeting brought up the concern that if the figures are not accurate, too many or too few students from Rock Hill and PHS will be required to go to Walnut Grove that may not want to go.

Dr. Bradley showed statistics from the year 2000 — 2022, along with projected figures for PISD’s growth up until 2026, and showed that the amount of growth in high school students roughly matched the projectile figures they had drawn up and conceded that they did not know how accurate they would be — but that they would be the best estimate for the necessary amount of students required to go to Walnut Grove.

At the board meeting, Dr. Bradley showed projected figures for PISD’s growth up until 2026, and demonstrated that the amount of growth in high school students in Prosper roughly matched the projectile figures the board had drawn up. “If you were dissatisfied with the original map, and wanted to stay at Prosper High School because we’re right across from it (Preston Rd.), we took (your opinions) into consideration, and this map reflects that,” Dr. Bradley said. “The second group (we heard from) lives in Tucker Hill, and towards the Mansions of Prosper, and they said they wanted to go to Walnut Grove. We took that feedback and created the map above, which created new numbers.” (Kaya Miller)

He drew up a series of alternate zoning plans that would adjust the zoning boundary to include the far east area of Prosper, and make the line that separates Rock Hill from the others straighter, to avoid confusion.

An issue that parents brought up at the meeting that was not directly addressed by Dr. Bradley included the way to get to Walnut Grove. Currently, a two-lane road offers the only way to enter the school. Parents are concerned that the traffic would make commuting to and from school stressful and even dangerous, especially for students that are inexperienced drivers, considering the larger implications of blocked traffic and long lines at the school.

Pullquote Photo

It’s definitely one step in a large plan. I came from Prosper High School to open Rock Hill as the new administrator, and I think opening new schools is awesome. It provides more opportunities for students. Obviously, things are shiny and new in the beginning, but Prosper High has an awesome building, and Rock Hill is still amazing. I think that change is inevitable, and with a district that’s growing at the rate that ours is, we have to open new schools. We want to make this as smooth as possible for the kids.”

— Melissa Weiss, lead assistant principal at Rock Hill HS

Chere Bennett, a parent who visited the board meeting, has a 13-year-old son who’s a current 7th grader, who will be zoned for Walnut Grove his freshman year.

“He’s okay (about going to Walnut Grove) because most of his friends will be going there too,” Bennett said. “My only concern is the roads. (The district) doesn’t plan very well when they do these things. Hopefully, by the time he goes there, which will be a year and a half from now, the roads will be fine. I do think it’ll be good to get the overcrowding (issue) taken care of, though.”

Nicki Carbajal, a mother of four children, said all of her children went to school in Prosper. Two of her daughters went to Prosper High School. Her daughter Cate graduated last year. Her two boys, rising junior Hank Carbajal and rising freshman Mark, are zoned for Walnut Grove.

“We have mixed feelings about going to Walnut Grove,” Carbajal said. “I just want to make sure they have the same fine arts opportunities. Are they going to be able to compete on a varsity level? That is really what I want to know. I’m not as worried (about the roads), just the fine arts access.”

A senior member of the Prosper community spoke at the board meeting regarding concerns for students in band and other school organizations that would be required to switch over to Walnut Grove. He mentioned that these students worked hard to get where they were, and that going to a new school could make them have to start all over, especially juniors who would be starting off with a blank slate coming into college admissions season. (Kaya Miller)

Parents also expressed concerns regarding Walnut Grove opening ahead of schedule, since students and parents alike have had less time to prepare for transitioning to a different school than expected.

Melissa Weiss, lead assistant principal of Rock Hill High School, has two children — one of whom is in sixth grade. Although she doesn’t think the zoning will affect them, she came to the board meeting to see the outcome of the discussion.

“As of now, it’s still too early to tell whether it will affect (my son’s) class,” Weiss said. “We don’t know where they’ll be going yet. High school No. 4 could open before they go into ninth grade, and they may change the zoning lines at that point. We do have friends in the area that’s being discussed, so it will be interesting to see (what happens).”

The video recording from the most recent board meeting is available to watch on YouTube and linked below, via the PISD Communications channel.