Spring ISD to Open Two New Specialty Middle School Programs to Give Families More Choice and Academic Rigor

Spring, Texas – November 12, 2018: Spring ISD announced two new specialty middle school programs on Thursday as part of a plan to give district families and students more choices as well as more academic rigor at the secondary level.

An International Baccalaureate program will be offered at Middle School #8 now under construction in the northernmost part of the district as part of the 2016 Bond program. In addition, a new specialty school, currently known as Middle School #9, will offer community-based leadership opportunities, as well as a blended learning approach, to 400 students. This new specialty middle school will be housed in the district facility on T.C. Jester, which currently is the home of the district’s Spring Early College Academy. Plans for moving Spring Early College Academy next August to the Lone Star College-North Harris campus — where their students can be fully immersed in the college experience — are underway.

“We have a lot of exciting changes ahead with our middle schools,” said Spring ISD Superintendent Dr. Rodney Watson. “We’re working hard to respond back to our community with options and improvements that will address both their concerns and hopes for our middle schools. These two, new specialty programs specifically address our families’ desire for more choices and options.”

The announcement came during the board’s monthly work session, and was just the latest step in an ongoing process to adjust and improve the district’s middle school programs. Earlier this fall, Watson held a listening tour where he spoke to hundreds of parents of fourth and fifth graders to find out what they’re looking for as their children transition from elementary to middle school.

The tour was in response to data that shows an average of five percent of all eligible fifth graders opt out of the district’s middle school programs. Watson acknowledged on Thursday that the district needs to do more to compete with private and charter schools that may be drawing some of those students away.

The new middle schools #8 and #9, in addition to the district’s current specialty program at Roberson Middle School, increase the number of middle school students who will be able to take part in the specialty programming to 22 percent, up from 10 percent.

“We are more than doubling the number of seats available in our choice middle school programs,” said Dr. Lupita Hinojosa, chief of school leadership and student support services. “We are looking to create a full spectrum of options for our families so every student can find the right fit and be successful.”

She noted that while the plan presented to the board on Thursday is focused on specialty options, administrators will return early next year to present a plan to also strengthen and improve the district’s comprehensive middle schools at Bailey, Bammel, Claughton, Dueitt, Twin Creeks and Wells.

The focus on middle school programming comes as the district prepares to adjust attendance boundaries under Phase 2 of a plan approved by the board in March 2017. With the opening of Middle School #8 next year, some students currently zoned to Twin Creeks Middle School will be rezoned to Middle School #8. At the same time, some students currently zoned to Bailey Middle School will be rezoned to Twin Creeks. These boundaries changes will bring relief to these two schools, which have been overcrowded for years.

Hinojosa told the board on Thursday that much work will be done in the coming months as administrators finalize recruitment, application and transfer procedures, particularly for Middle School #9. The new IB program at Middle School #8 will be open to zoned neighborhood students, as well as a limited number of transfers.

Roberson Middle School, a specialty program that focuses on math, science and fine arts programming, opens its application process for students in December with parent presentations scheduled at elementary schools districtwide. That campus will be moving next August into a new building being constructed on Veterans Memorial Drive under the 2016 Bond program from its current location on Southridge Road.

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