The Kerrville Independent School District board of trustees unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday night to support moving sixth-graders from B.T. Wilson School to the new Hal Peterson Middle School.
There's no timetable for the move, but Superintendent Mark Foust mapped out the plan during a presentation. Foust made it clear the state-of-the-art middle school can handle an influx of about 350 students.
Peterson's capacity is 1,200, and by incorporating the sixth graders, the school would house 1,100. Foust said it is unlikely the district would grow fast enough to reach the school's capacity.
The challenge is determining some of the duplication of services, but Foust said no one would lose a job in the plan. The district's initial goal would be to move sixth-graders into a self-contained wing, along with a separate lunch plan, and Foust described it as a "school within a school."
Peterson's new campus opened up in August — to rave reviews from parents and students. The biggest drawback has been the traffic pressures from the 7:20 a.m. start time, which has caused some headaches. However, Foust said he envisions that the district will make adjustments to handle the traffic.
Trustee Greg Peschel said that was his only concern was traffic on Loop 534, especially as more than 120 new homes are under construction across the street from the middle school and Tivy High School.
However, Trustee Andree Hayes remembers being the first class of sixth-graders to attend Peterson Middle School in 1961. Board President Rolinda Schmidt said the B.T. Wilson sixth-grade campus idea was borne out of space needs before Tally Elementary School opened, which allowed the district to shift fifth-graders back to the elementary schools.
The discussion about moving the sixth-grade students to the middle school picked up steam when more than 70% of parents of children in grades kindergarten through fifth grade expressed support for the Peterson plan.
Foust said parents also provided plenty of helpful feedback to help guide the district's decision. In turn, the district created frequently asked questions to help navigate the move with parents. Some of those included questions about safety, especially when it comes to sixth-graders interacting with older students. The confidence that the parents provided helped move the district forward.
One concern was what would happen to the B.T. Wilson campus. Foust said the district would keep the name of the campus, which was named for the pioneering teacher of the Doyle School. Foust said he envisions plenty of use for the Wilson campus, including consolidating the district's special education programs there or housing the district's alternative high school.
Foust made it clear that he wanted the board's support to move forward with the plan. He got it. Trustee Jack Stevens made the motion to support the resolution, and Trustee Michael Tackett offered a second. The vote passed 7-0.