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Lackland ISD opens doors to off-base military children

By Tony Perez | 37th Training Wing Public Affairs Office | Aug. 23, 2007

LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, TEXAS — For the first time in its history, Lackland Independent School District will be opening its doors to off-base children whose parents are active-duty military stationed at Lackland AFB.

The decision was made by the LISD School Board during a meeting on Aug. 16.

"The board had a lengthy discussion because this is a real departure for us," said Lackland ISD Superintendent Dr. David Splitek. "We wanted to make sure we did this the right way and that we weren't going to have unintended consequences."

The decision was made after seeing a noticeable drop in registration due to the closing of the Wherry housing units.

"Our student population really dropped off," Dr. Splitek said. "We thought we would see a bigger turnout from Billy Mitchell Village, but based on the enrollment, that didn't really pan out. The only option we have is to open our schools to more students. We are a military base school district. The only other population to draw from is off-base military families. In the past we haven't done that. We can't meet the demands of all of those kids."

Lackland High School is an "A" high school according to University Interscholastic League guidelines. High schools with enrollment of 195 students or less fall into the A category. AA schools have an enrollment of 195-414 students, AAA have an enrollment of 415-949, AAAA have an enrollment of 950-1,984 students and AAAAA high schools have an enrollment of 1,985 students and more.

Lackland ISD has invited all off-base active-duty military personnel to apply for a transfer for their children. They will then establish a pool at each grade level depending on the grade level's specific needs, and names will randomly be drawn until the spots at each grade level are filled.

Three to four seats will also be left open at each grade level for families needing temporary lodging.

In order to be considered for the lottery, parents must provide proof of active-duty military status and assignment to Lackland AFB, copies of student's immunization records, the student's most recent report card, the child's Social Security number and birth certificate. High school students must also provide a transcript. Behavior and attendance records will also be reviewed before admission into the lottery process.

"We want to make sure that kids are attending school regularly," Dr. Splitek said "While we are interested in taking transfer students, we know what kind of discipline our community expects and we want that from all of our students-new and old."

Lackland ISD will have an alternate list in case selected students have second thoughts. "Our goal is to get the transfer kids in over the next couple of days; we want to rush them along because we want those transfer kids to start the same day as our previously registered kids," Dr. Splitek said.

While Lackland ISD is welcoming off-base children, they will not be able to provide transportation for them. Before- and after-school child care will also be the parent's responsibility.

"We have contacted the youth center and they do have before and after school programs," Dr. Splitek said. "There is supervised care, which costs money, and a drop-off program where children sign themselves in and out. The Youth Center is excited at the possibility of getting more children."

Students considering a transfer must consider that Texas state law prohibits students transferring districts from participating in extracurricular activities for one year.

"The rule is in place to keep districts from recruiting players," Dr. Splitek said.

Dr. Splitek does not feel that any students considering transferring schools will have to fear the loss of their spot when construction of Wherry is completed.

"Most families are only here two or three years, and as they get closer to building housing units at Wherry, we will take a look at our numbers," Dr. Splitek said. "We want to be able to tell parents that their child will be able to stay here for the whole school year and hopefully all during their time at Lackland."