The Highland Park Board of Trustees will consider a policy change at its meeting this week that would allow teachers and professional staff to enroll their children in HPISD schools.
The board has been researching and discussing the idea since January and a summary report will be presented Tuesday.
According to an HPISD news release, the policy change is designed to assist the district in recruiting and retaining quality teachers and staff. A survey conducted during the spring showed substantial interest by staff members – 75 percent of HPISD employees said it would significantly impact recruiting professional staff to the district, while more than half said it would significantly impact their decision to remain a district employee.
The district noted that in researching the issue, "it appears that most, if not all, Texas school districts allow employees to enroll their children to attend. Many Dallas-area private schools offer reduced tuition for the children of staff members."
Some of those districts were Allen, Carroll, Carrolton/Farmers Branch, Frisco, and Plano.
If approved, the policy would be phased in over time since additional capacity will only be available for students in grades kindergarten through fourth grade during the 2018-2019 school year. Subsequent grades may be added in future years as capacity is added to McCulloch Intermediate, Highland Park Middle School, and Highland Park High School, officials said.
"Our goal with this policy change is to help our principals attract, recruit and retain the best-qualified candidates to teach and work with the students of Highland Park ISD," said Superintendent Tom Trigg. "There is a lot of competition right now among schools in the area to recruit top talent and we believe our students deserve to have the very best in their classrooms."
The draft policy would allow non-resident, full-time professional contracted employees, including teachers, librarians, counselors and professional staff, to submit an application for their child to transfer into HPISD schools. Acceptance would be dependent upon on the availability of classroom seats, so as to not to interfere with class-size requirements.
Staff members would need to make an application each year for their student. The students would also need to meet certain attendance and discipline requirements to continue their enrollment.
If an employee leaves during the middle of the year, the student would be allowed to continue through the six-weeks grading period, similar to residents who move out of the district mid-year.
"We have been engaged in a very thoughtful dialogue with HPISD trustees during the last few months to develop and refine this policy recommendation," said Brenda West, executive director of Human Resources. "The policy is written to ensure that there will always be capacity for every student who lives within HPISD boundaries."
If the policy is approved by trustees in June, the district doesn't expect an immediate influx of a large number of students. Approximately 20 employees indicated that they would seek to enroll their elementary school-age children during the 2018-19 school year, according to the news release.
"This policy is really about planning for the long-term," said West. "Most school-age children have already established relationships in their own schools and communities, so we are not expecting a lot of new students as a result of this policy during the first year or two. Our research indicates that this may increase HPISD's student population by 1-2 percent over time. The long-term benefit, however, of helping recruit and retain quality staff makes this worthy of consideration."
The board will hear a report on the draft policy during its meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the 5/6 Assembly Room at McCulloch Intermediate School/Highland Park Middle School. It is scheduled to discuss and vote on the policy on June 12 at the same location.
A link to the draft policy can be found here.