Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tomball school district for the Village of Creekside Park, The Woodlands Texas

Over the years we residents have grown accustomed to the quality of education provided by the Conroe School District (CISD). The reputation of the Conroe School District schools in The Woodlands has generally been excellent. With the advent of the new Village of Creekside Park come new issues and new hopes. Now begins a new era of change with a different school district, TISD (Tomball School District). Many potential homebuyers and incoming families are asking questions such as “what is this district and who has experience with it?” From educational quality to transportation, people are seeking answers.

As home development accelerates and expands, there is an understandable concern by newcomers. However, I have found some really nice things about this school district and have concluded that it is worth sharing, especially with newcomers. I have taken the initiative to dig into the situation with the possible effects to those contemplating moving to the new village and to those already living in The Woodlands. At the initial writing of this post, more than 111 homes had been sold in the Village of Creekside Park. Just this past week, one homebuilder had a grand opening for 1700 additional homes in the new village. TISD buses have been transporting students to their respective schools in Tomball since school began in August. To put things in perspective, high school students are not transported any further than in other villages of The Woodlands. Currently, the elementary school is quite a bit further but less than the higher grade schools.

Available 2006-7 Comparative Data
HAR's assessment gives all three school districts the same rating - 2 stars on a 1- to 4-star system. Two stars signify "acceptable".

There are ten schools in CISD considered to be outstanding by HAR (Houston Association of Realtors). They are Collins Intermediate (5-6), Deretchin Elementary (K-6), David Elementary (K-4), Bush elementary (K-4), Buckalew elementary (K-4), Galatas elementary (K-4), Mitchell Intermediate (5-6), Sally Ride elementary(K-4), Hailey elementary (P-4), and Tough elementary (K-6). All are located in The Woodlands. Why mention this? CISD is recognized primarily for excellent schools in The Woodlands, so the role of parents and the community are shown to contribute a very significant part of the educational quality received here. This quality is not expected to be any different in the new village.

HAR statistics do not indicate any significant difference between the school districts themselves, yet when you look at the schools independently, there are quality differences between the individual Tomball and Conroe ISD schools. In searching for excellence, I reviewed all the schools in the Houston area for a rating of high excellence. I did find one Tomball elementary school achieving an outstanding rating by HAR - Lakewood Elementary (K-4). This school is in an area with similar demographics as The Woodlands. It is located close to 249 and Louetta. Two schools have a four star (highest) rating by HAR - Lakewood and Willow Creek elementaries. Willow Creek is in the same general area as Lakewood. As stated by Joel Deretchin, Vice-President of Public Affairs, The Woodlands Development Company, “Demographics seem to play more of a role in distinguishing the performance ratings of the schools than any difference in administration by their districts.“

The Tomball Independent School District is relatively small and is challenged with huge growth as the Northwest regional area of Houston explodes in population. In 2007, a bond was passed to finance the 5-year anticipated student growth. Based on performance change over the past two years and plans for the future, I am inclined to believe that TISD will be an excellent school system for The Woodlands. Its schooling of our children in the new village will make a major contribution to the overall success and quality of life there.

I made a comparative study of the school districts serving The Woodlands and included a neighboring district, Klein Independent School District and came up with the following data. Klein has also been growing over the past few years, and the demographics are similar to that of Conroe ISD and Tomball ISD. Note that "schools recognized" comes from an independent source, measuring educational quality on different criteria than HAR which uses TAKS as a basis for rating the schools. Also note that this represents 2006 data. I have added a 2007 update for TISD later in this post.

School district

# schools 
 recognized

ELA Math Science Soc Studies Writing SAT Avg
Conroe 8 93% 85% 82% 94%  95% 1081
Tomball 0

 91% 

83% 81% 93% 93% 1048
Klein 4 91% 82% 80% 91% 93% 1047

The following table is for links to HAR and other relevant sites referenced for information in this document.The sites are handy to do your own research and are updated now and then as new data becomes available

Online References
1 HAR 2006 statistics for Conroe (CISD)
2 HAR 2006 statistics for Tomball (TISD)
3 HAR 2006 statistics for Klein (KISD)
4 Texas Monthly Magazine, Dec 07 "The Best Public Schools" article
5 Type "Conroe", "Tomball" or "Klein" in school district to view schools meeting criteria for "best"
6 Type school name or district to view National Center for accountability ranking and educational gaps. Just for Kids.
7 Tomball Magnolia Tribune, January 28,2008
8 Conroe ISD
9 Tomball ISD

In December 2007, Texas Monthly magazine recognized the best public schools for their educational quality. Among them were schools in Conroe ISD and Klein ISD, yet no schools were recognized from Tomball.

So who will acclaim that the village is attractive to families and to the children's educational quality that we have grown to expect here in The Woodlands? Mr. Deretchin stepped up and said, “We will”. “We have been working with Tomball ISD for five years. At first, we met with officials from both districts, Conroe and Tomball. Tomball ISD promised to build schools in the village, so we did not see any reason to seek a change in their jurisdiction. We concluded that the Tomball ISD would serve the families moving here very well.”

The 2007 $198 million school bond is expected to fund this 33% growth in student population within this district over the next five years. The cost per added student is a whopping $66,000 but then again, the bond also covers renovations in other schools and technology upgrades.

The Good News in TISD
Alas! What has been happening behind the scenes is much more promising than I expected. Instead of a reactive means to building new schools as demanded by population growth, Tomball ISD has agreed to plan and build inside the village near the onset of development. Being proactive to avoid over crowding and strain on the educational system, Tomball ISD is eager to be there for the youngsters before they arrive. I find this district to be innovative and forward looking. Early in 2008, new statistics were released indicating a continued rise in performance from the TAKS tests of 2007. “The percentage of all TISD students who met the standards on the ’07 TAKS test increased from 77% to 80%… The district as a whole saw increases for all students tested in all categories. In Reading/Language Arts, the percentage of students meeting the TAKS standard increased from 91% in ’06 to 94% in ‘07.” (Tomball Magnolia Tribune, Jan 28, 2008). It was also noted that there was a 1% increase in Math and Writing scores, 2% in Social Studies, and a 3% increase in Science. The Tribune made a note of the change in Hispanic population from 18.3% to 19.1%, but the limited English proficiency students still made a huge performance improvement in Writing skills, from 70% in 2006 to 86% in 2007!

Tomball ISD provides bus service with just the few families currently occupying their homes. In the fall of 2009, the first elementary school will be opening near Gosling to make the commute very short up through the sixth grade. This school year and next, the children must commute to the three schools near the Tomball Freeway (249) and 2920, a distance of about 10 miles.

Current Homeowner Situation
Current Tomball ISD schools for The Woodlands:
a) Maps on the TISD website.
b)TISD Website link.
1. Tomball Elementary (P-4)- Google Map Website
2. Tomball Intermediate(5-6) - Google Map Website
3. Tomball Junior High (7-8) - Google Map Website
4. Tomball High (9-12)– Google Map Website
Please note on these maps that the Village of Creekside Park is to the east (right) between Gosling and Kuykendahl, where Carlton Woods Fazio course is located. Another section of the village is to the west of Kuykendahl in the undeveloped space on the map.

Three tracts of land in the village have been sold to Tomball ISD for future schools. One is located near Gosling, another near the eastern side of Kuykendahl and another on the western side of Kuykendahl. Both elementary schools are planned as K-6 schools. They will be built on the two tracts on the eastern side. There may be a Junior High (7-8) built, but no definite plans have been formulated yet. There is a need to have another Junior High School in the district and there are funds available from the bond to build one. “The Woodlands would be a good place to put one”, Mr. Deretchin exclaimed. “Plans for the first two elementary schools have been approved. Tomball High School is only 20 minutes from the village. It has been totally renovated.“ As reported by TISD in Jan 2008, the first school has been designed and is out for bids. An artist drawing is available on the TISD website. Select The Woodlands K-6 #1.

“This new K-6 campus is Tomball ISD’s first school to be built in The Woodlands. Located at Creekside Green Drive and Creekside Forest Drive, this 112,170 square foot school will serve approximately 730 students in grades kindergarten through six. The preliminary schematic design includes classroom wings that are arranged as “super-pods.” This configuration allows for flexibility, collaboration and the ability to expand grade levels within the same area of the building. In addition, the building will allow for the separation of the grade levels. The administrative offices are located near the entrance. The design also features a cafeteria, a centrally located library, art rooms, a science lab, a computer lab, choir, band and music rooms, a teacher workroom, a gymnasium, and a drop-off/pick-up loop. The new school is scheduled to open in August 2009.”

Hopes and Expectations

Therefore, transitions to new elementary and junior high schools are expected, but the high school will remain as is.

So opens a new rivalry among our High Schools. This will gradually develop as the population grows and our youth begin to realize that they have sports and academic challengers also living in The Woodlands but down south.

We look forward toward very high quality schools with top recognition for our schools in the Village of Creekside Park. It will be driven by the expectations and actions of new residents, by quality administration and excellent teachers. I do not see any reason for alarm and every reason for families to flock to the Village of Creekside Park.

Additionally, for higher education, Lone Star - Montgomery College has purchased a satellite campus site for expansion of the local college system. It will be located adjacent to the new YMCA. This should provide an option for other villages including Indian Springs, Panther Creek and others, due to improved proximity. With the issues on the 242 campus such as parking, I would expect many students wanting to attend this school instead of the campus on 242.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

DID YOU KNOW THAT THE TRIBUNE ISN'T THE PAPER YOU SHOULD BE REFERENCING, ESPECIALLY WHEN WRITING ABOUT TISD. IF ANYTHING GO STRAIGHT TO TISD'S WEBSITE OR THE OFFICIAL PAPER OF THE CITY AND DISTRICT WOULD BE A BETTER SOURCE. THAT'S REALLY SCARY FOR SOMEONE IN THE WOODLANDS TO BE REFERENCING THE TRIBUNE! ALMOST COMICAL.

Anonymous said...

Where exactly will the new YMCA and the satellite community college campus be located?

indianspringsguy said...

The new YMCA is currently being constructed just west of the new park on Creekside Forest, near Gosling. I believe the completion date is the end of this year. My understanding is that the community college will be built just to the west of that on the same side of the road on land that has already been purchased by Lone Star College.