As of April 2013, there has been no official decision by the Midlothian ISD School Board on which group of students will populate High School #2 (Phase 1) when it opens for the 2014-15 school year.
However, if someone were to ask me this month (May 2013) what I would recommend, it would be that all first-time ninth graders be the class to open High School #2 (Phase 1).
Why that recommendation? The reason is simple: economics.
The original thought process – not officially approved – was that High School #2 (Phase 1) would be a completely separate High School in 2014-15 and start with ninth and tenth graders. Then, the following year (2015-16) it would expand to include eleventh graders, and in 2016-17, High School #2 (Phase 1) would house ninth through twelfth graders.
The foundation for that thought process was student growth estimates provided by the district’s demographer. The district was informed as late as September 2011, that Midlothian ISD would experience at least 3% student growth annually through 2020-21. [Note: The 3% figure was considered the minimum student growth needed to open the new school with ninth and tenth graders]. For the 2014-15 school year, student growth was predicted to be 4%. For 2015-16, student growth was predicted to be 5% and the following school year, 2016-17, student growth was predicted to be 6%. The next three years, student growth was predicted to be 6%, 7% and 6%.
However, to date, that level of predicted student growth did not and has not materialized.
Student growth is a critical factor in the decision-making process because the number of students plays a large part in how districts are funded for their daily operations.
Without the predicted student growth and the subsequent extra funding, economics kicks in. It is less expensive – considerably less expensive – to educate all first-time ninth graders (2014-15) than to begin and complete the process (2014-2017) for a ninth-through-twelfth-grade high school.
So, the financially prudent recommendation, if it had to be made today, is to begin the 2014-15 school year at High School #2 (Phase 1) with only MISD’s first-time ninth graders.