Thursday, February 7, 2013
Opinion: Rezoning Flower Mound’s elementary schools is a step in the wrong direction
A simple change can cause a major community disturbance.
FLOWER MOUND The latest imbroglio to cause an eruption of passion in Flower Mound is the fear that the Lewisville Independent School District is preparing to rezone children from one school to another, a move that not only would create disruption of travel patterns for students and parents, but has the potential to put some children in danger.
The reason for concern stems from the possibility that some students would be forced to cross over busy intersections that are tough enough for adults to navigate, let alone youngsters who have had little or no experience dodging traffic. Newspaper stories and blog posts have been actively keeping this issue alive as parents with school age children become informed and, in some cases, outraged.
A February 4 Flower Mound Town Council meeting was well-attended by mothers and fathers who made it clear that they were not happy with what they viewed as a threat to their children’s safety. You may be wondering why they’re bringing their concerns to Council members instead of the members of the LISD board, where most people believe such decisions are made. Mayor Tom Hayden made it clear in his remarks that “The Flower Mound Council doesn’t determine where kids go to school.”
However, at that same Council meeting, LISD Board President Carol Kyer had some thoughts on the subject during Presentation and Update from LISD (Item G3 on the town’s video for that date): “I was originally asked to speak regarding the involvement of the Town Council and the administration on the current rezoning process. I was going to point out that the town doesn't have any say in our school, in the zoning process which Mayor Hayden just pointed out. After I reviewed my emails from the past 6 months, I was wrong and that I couldn't, in good faith, say that. An email was sent to me and (LISD Board Member) Kathy Duke from Mayor Hayden requesting that something be done about the over-crowding at McKamy in which he included the whole Town Council and that was on August 12, 2012. So with that I had forwarded to (LISD Superintendant) Dr. Waddell, thus starting the process of yes the town did have some kind of say with the start of this rezoning process."
Okay, so there appears to be some contradiction about the town’s role in this very volatile issue. Yet, to be fair, I don’t think an email request about overcrowding at one school is tantamount to fixing blame for the move toward rezoning. Presumably, Council receives emails all the time from parents that have issues with the schools. Forwarding them to the school board seems innocuous enough. Nevertheless, given the level of concern in the community, it’s not hard to imagine that the Mayor had no idea that his short message would come back to bite him and others on the Council.
It pains me to point out that all issues arising a few months before an election have the momentum of a boulder rolling down a steep slope. Therefore, it’s a good idea to separate the wheat from the chaff. If the decisions of the Town Council had anything to do with rezoning it would come from changes to the Master Plan and SMARTGrowth that allow increased residential density, not from an email message. When town staff forwards statistics that project future growth estimates, LISD and other entities must make preparations to handle the needs that will be required for the expansion.
Whether or not residents think that makes the Council culpable depends on how they view Council decisions which may have, perhaps inadvertently, impacted the zoning process. Like a pebble tossed in a pond, an event that seems small can have consequences that ripple through a community and cause a disturbance that wasn’t envisioned.
I’ve always been very proud of this town because of the many residents who get involved in shaping our future. They are the primary reason for the high marks the town receives when magazines rate desirable places to live. Keep in mind, quality schools are at the top of those lists. If there’s one thing you don’t dare mess with, it is responsible parents who care deeply about the safety and education of their children. Consequently, in the best interests of all those families that moved here because of our great quality of life, the Council has an obligation to use any influence they can muster to resolve this vexing situation as quickly and prudently as possible. Meanwhile, those who want to learn more about it and perhaps join in the dialogue can check with the town at www.flower-mound.com or with the school district at www.lisd.net.
Bob Weir is a long-time Flower Mound resident and former local newspaper editor.
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