Did CCISD gerrymander Clear Springs High School?

Clear Creek ISD’s school boundary changes, approved unanimously by the Board of Trustees on February 29, 2019, shifted a whole bunch of high school students out of Clear Springs High School.

Actually, let me correct that: the School Boundary Advisory Committee (SBAC) recommended that a whole bunch of low-income high school students be shifted out of Clear Springs High School. And the Board of Trustees didn’t bat an eyelash, nor did Dr. Steven Ebell, the Deputy Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, who was the administrator in charge of the SBAC.

According to the 2019-2019 Budget Analysis and Detail (page 146), only 10.9 percent of Clear Springs HS students are economically disadvantaged. Out of a student body of 2,817, that’s 307 students.

Clear Springs to Clear Brook

Clear Springs High School to Clear Brook High School

Before the SBAC’s recommendation, students north of FM 528 attended Clear Springs High School. The new Clear Springs High School zone shrunk to exclude those north of FM 528 – in other words, the kids who live in a much less affluent area. This removes 243 students from Clear Springs High School.

Clear Springs to Clear Creek

As if that wasn’t enough, the SBAC then recommended that a bunch of high schoolers just slightly west of I-45 (also lower income students) be moved from Clear Springs High School to Clear Creek High School (which, if you’ll remember from a previous post, is where James Collins attended when he was unfairly suspended.) This removes 39 students from Clear Springs HS.

If these two recommended changes do what CCISD apparently wants to do, 282 low-income students are removed from Clear Springs HS. That leaves 25.

So why would CCISD want to move low-income students out of Clear Springs?

Well… it’s no surprise that low-income students generally are characterized as less, how should we put it, academically inclined than their peers. And for all its bluster about how TEA ratings mean nothing, CCISD does care. It obviously cares so much that it wants to have a high school it can trot out as a shining jewel in its tarnished crown.

In the latest report card from the Texas Education Agency, Clear Springs High School has room for improvement, particularly with the economically disadvantaged students. While it received a designated distinction for Closing the Gaps (bridging the academic gaps between economically disadvantaged students and the rest of the student body), dig a little deeper. On the second page of this document, you’ll see that the economically disadvantaged – or low income – students are lagging behind their peers. Especially at the Masters level.

Keep scrolling. The economically disadvantaged students have a slightly higher dropout rate. Fewer of them take the SAT. Those that do score lower – and it’s the same on the ACT.

Gaming the TEA Ratings

What’s CCISD’s solution to bolster the TEA ratings of Clear Springs? Gerrymander. Gerrymandering increases racial segregation, lowers morale, and tidily skirts around Brown v. Board of Education, but just barely. And that’s just what CCISD did, through its SBAC. It removed low income – and according to CCISD, lower performing – students from Clear Springs to boost the TEA report card for Clear Springs. The ultimate goal of CCISD was to show improvement by moving underperforming students where their effect on TEA scores is negligible.

Rezoning Without Representation

None of the children living in the neighborhoods zoned out of Clear Springs were represented on the SBAC. The sole representative of a child from Clear Springs was Abraham Oommen, who lives in the fairly new (and fairly affluent) Friendswood subdivision of Autumn Lakes. Needless to say, Mr. Oommen’s child was not moved from Clear Springs.

A closer look at the SBAC members reveals just how stacked the deck was against these low-income students.

  • Lucie Easterwood, the parent of a Brookside Intermediate student, lives in the tony, gated community of Terra Bella in Friendswood. Her child wouldn’t have to attend Clear Brook. (Brookside feeds into Clear Springs.)
  • Kari Balusek, the parent of a Creekside Intermediate student, lives very far south of FM 528 (she lives south of FM 518 and west of Landing Blvd.) Her child also would not have to attend Clear Brook. (Creekside is the primary feeder school into Clear Springs.)
  • David Dusl, the parent of a child zoned to Landolt Elementary (which feeds to Clear Springs), was similarly unaffected, as he lives in the Friendswood subdivision of Autumn Lakes, south of FM 528.
  • Edward Ryskoski, the parent of a child zoned to Hall Elementary (which feeds to Clear Springs), definitely was unaffected. He lives in the League City subdivision of Countryside North.
  • Zach Dunham, the parent of a child zoned to Bauerschlag Elementary (which feeds to Clear Springs), also was unaffected. He lives in the League City subdivision of Brittany Lakes.

Not a single one of these SBAC members had to worry about their child being moved to Clear Brook High School or Clear Creek High School. I repeat: all the children of these parents get the best feeder patterns possible, to the school that CCISD wants to hold up as its prize possession.

Lest you think the SBAC acted on its own, consider this:

Sara Holder a/k/a Sara Meyn Holder was one of the co-chairs of the SBAC. On Facebook, she is friends with Ann Hammond (and was a very vocal supporter, and has promised to give Scott Bowen, Ann Hammond’s replacement, “hell every chance” she gets). I’ll talk about it in a later post, but she is very much a plant on the part of CCISD to get the SBAC to do its bidding.

Clearly the deck was stacked against the low-income students from the inception of the SBAC.

7 thoughts on “Did CCISD gerrymander Clear Springs High School?

  1. I am not a plant of CCISD, thank you very much. I am a parent, volunteer and active member of this community. You want to talk to me, you are more than welcome to… my email is sararenne@gmail.com From there, I will gladly give you my cell number. I will gladly speak to you about the SBAC. I volunteered twice to be on that committee, and I will gladly tell you how it affected me, my friends, my fellow PTA members and my friends all thru the district.

    1. My question is did you have all the students “best intentions” in mind when making decisions or did you feel more strongly about those directly related to you and your “peers”

  2. C’mon, Red, we know the answer to that question. The January 31, 2019 SBAC meeting minutes, where she reminds the committee that they’d have to reopen public hearings to consider new recommendations, says it all.

  3. Gerrymandering is real in CCISD. I live right on the Brook-Lake border, and although I live closer to Lake, I went to Brook due to re-zoning that occurred sometime around 2006. Very curious that Bay Oaks, the neighborhood right across Space Center is zoned to Lake, considering the houses there are 300K-2 million vs. my meager 100K neighborhood. And now, only the newest part of the Reserve, (also along this Brook-Lake border) will be zoned to Lake as well. I’m not complaining as I would much rather have gone to Brook than have instantly doubled my class percentile rank and been surrounded by the notoriously privileged character of many Lake students. Not saying that proximity played no role in these zoning decisions, but they are clearly drawn along lines of wealth as well. Legislation favoring school choice to corruptly-mandated zoning is the solution to this and other problems, but in the meantime, we should hold CCISD accountable for a more transparent and fair zoning procedure and particularly to securing easier (ideally near-free) access to inter-district transfers.

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