Zoning changes could force Forney ISD students to attend new schools

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A small school district is making big changes to keep up with record growth.

Forney ISD saw a 10 percent increase in students this year. That's forcing extensive rezoning. Some parents say the plan doesn’t make sense.

Even though Criswell Elementary School faces a nearby neighborhood, the families who live there would be cut off under the proposed plan and forced to go to a school that is miles away.

Mandy Martin bought her home with a view of Criswell Elementary because of its proximity to the school.

“If I can throw a rock and hit that school, my kids should be able to attend this school,” she said.

But the rezoning plan is not that simple. With two campuses being designated for fifth and sixth graders only and dual-language students being funneled to Criswell, location alone is not the determining factor.

Martin was shocked when she saw the proposed changes.

Kendra Ankrum found out about the proposed change from another parent.

“I thought it was a joke,” she said. “I didn't take it seriously that they would rezone our school when we are right across the street.”

The school board president was not available for an interview on Wednesday, nor was anyone with the school district. But a district spokeswoman said the plan is not final yet, and the district is still taking feedback from the community.

“We would have to drive past this school to take our kids four miles down the road to another school,” Ankrum said.

Lewis Elementary would take Martin on a detour away from her job in Uptown Dallas during morning rush hour.

“To me, that's huge,” she said. “Another 30 minutes to commute to work for a lot of us.”

Residents believe the zoning change would cause their property values to drop. The school that their kids wouldn't be allowed to attend brings a lot of traffic to the neighborhood.

“We put up with that because it's a convenience to have our kids there,” Martin said. “But if we're not going to have that benefit, who wants to live there?”

The school district is holding a public hearing Thursday at 6 p.m. to hear from the community. The meeting will be held at Forney ISD's central administration building.