LUBBOCK, Texas — On Thursday, the Lubbock Independent School District Board of Trustees voted unanimously to make Smylie Wilson Middle School a magnet school. The change will also affect attendance boundaries.
According to the Texas Education Agency, more than 500 students will have to move to a new school, if families choose not to apply for the magnet school. The two options will be Mackenzie Middle School and Irons Middle School.
Superintendent Dr. Kathy Rollo and Board President, Zach Brady are excited for the new change.
“It will have a new name and new opportunities for students to learn,” Dr. Rollo said.
The new magnet school will focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) and emphasize project based learning.
“This campus will provide a learning method that is going to be attractive to students that perhaps aren’t served well by the traditional learning method,” Brady said.
According to a press release, the plan for Smylie Wilson was proposed based on TEA Accountability Ratings for the last six years. In 2019, Smylie received an ‘F’ rating in terms of three TEA criteria: Student Achievement, School Progress, and Closing the Gaps.
Smylie Wilson also received an ‘improvement required’ designation in 2018 and in 2016.
However, Irons and Mackenzie middle schools aren’t scoring that much better. According to the TEA, Irons received a ‘C’ designation, while Mackenzie received a ‘D’ designation in 2019.
The two schools will also have to accommodate more students. The TEA reports during the 2018-2019 school year, more than 650 students attended Mackenzie, and more than 500 students attended Irons.
“We want to give Irons and Mackenzie the resources they need to handle those additional students,” Brady said.
“We are grateful to the Irons and Mackenzie families for being willing to open arms to new students from Smiley Wilson,” Dr. Rollo added.
Additionally, about 90 percent of students attending Smylie Wilson during the 2018-2019 school year were considered economically disadvantaged, according to the TEA. By comparison, 40 percent at Irons Middle School are considered economically disadvantaged, and 78 percent at Mackenzie Middle School.
Lubbock ISD held several meetings with members of the community to receive feedback, and keep families informed.
“That makes me think that our public outreach efforts worked, that folks got the information that they needed,” Brady said. “We need to make the tough decisions in front of us that we need to put our students in this district in a position to succeed.”
Some parents at Smylie Wilson believe the change is a good thing.
“Knowing that the students that are already here can continue as long as they reapply, and I’m just excited for the new things that [Smylie Wilson] is becoming,” Tabatha Burnett said.
While others, like Brittney Sedberry, disagree. She believes more resources should go towoard Smylie Wilson.
“I think we’re going to be switching districts. I’m not sure where yet, but I think we’re gonna be switching. I’m not happy with this at all,” Sedberry said.
The magnet school will be open in August of 2020 for 6th and 7th grade students, and the following year for 8th grade students.
Lubbock ISD offers open enrollment for all of their campuses.