HISD to Delay WUES Enrollment Limits

A proposal to limit enrollment at West U Elementary School has been delayed for at least a year, Principal John Threet announced Monday in the school’s newsletter.

At a meeting of the West U PTO Tuesday morning, Threet said that HISD’s plan to cap enrollment at WUES, Twain and Roberts elementary schools “has been delayed for a year. Who knows what will happen by then?”

For now, West U Elementary is "safe" from limits on enrollment, Principal John Threet told the WUES PTO Tuesday.

For now, West U Elementary is “safe” from limits on enrollment, Principal John Threet told the WUES PTO Tuesday.

Threet credited HISD Trustee Mike Lunceford for “encouraging the HISD Officer of School Support to come up with a better plan to address overcrowding at these schools,” in the Pony Express newsletter.

Threet said that parents’ feedback to the enrollment limits also forced the district consider delaying the plan.

At a recent community meeting held by HISD, Threet said that the parent of a student at Mark Twain Elementary complained that the district’s plan to limit enrollment was being announced too late for parents to apply to magnet programs in HISD, or to consider sending their children to private schools.

“I think that was a big factor,” Threet said. “They didn’t leave parents with a lot of options.”

Threet encouraged members of the PTO and all parents of students at West U Elementary to stay informed about the district’s plans.

“I think it behooves everyone to stay informed and to let the district know of any better plans,” Threet said.

HISD announced Tuesday that the board would consider delaying the proposed enrollment limits, at its regular board meeting Thursday at 5 p.m.

The trustees will review a modified proposal that gives all currently enrolled students — and incoming kindergarten students — the option to attend the school to which they are currently zoned. The proposal is an effort to relieve anticipated overcrowding in the coming years and comply with state law, which requires kindergarten through fourth-grade classes to have no more than 22 students per classroom. Classes that exceed that number must request a state waiver.

HISD’s proposal to cap enrollment at some district elementary schools is a result of a decision by the Texas Education Agency to limit “class size waivers” that exempt many elementary classrooms from the state mandated teacher to student ratio of 22 to 1. HISD last year sought 1,500 such waivers for elementary schools. District officials aim to cut that number in half by the 2015-2016 school year, with plans to continue the decrease incrementally through 2019.

Threet said that the enrollment caps had caused “a little panic” for parents with kindergarteners enrolling for the 2015-16 academic year.

There were 114 parents who enrolled their children on the first day of kindergarten enrollment, including one parent who arrived at the school at 3:30 a.m. By the time Threet arrived at his usual time of 5:15 a.m., he said there were five parents lined up outside the school.

“I even had one Mom who was e-mailing me every day from Disney World,” Threet said. “She was considering sending her husband back to Houston to enroll their children in kindergarten next year. So, I was replying to her every day to remain calm,” Threet said.