Plano West could soon be biggest high school in Texas

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by STEVE STOLER

WFAA

Posted on March 8, 2011 at 11:26 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 9 at 12:52 PM

PLANO — Plano could soon boast the largest high school in the State of Texas.

Boundary changes approved by the Plano ISD last year will likely raise the number of students at Plano West by 1,400 — but not without a fight.

Parents are concerned about a myriad of issues, everything from property values and safety to the quality of eduction for their sons and daughters.

Over the next three years, Plano West's enrollment could rise from the current 2,000 students to 3,400. That would mean 44 percent of all high school students in Plano would go to Plano West.

"The building's not large enough," said parent Michael Riggs. "It's not built to handle that many students."

Another parent, Kelly Friedman, is also critical of the proposal. "No one has experience with a class that large. No one knows what to do with the largest graduating class in the history of Texas," she said.

But school board president Skip Jenkins says the district is prepared to handle the enrollment boom. They plan on building nine new classrooms.

"It won't impact class size," Jenkins promised. "If anything impacts class size, it will be the budget issues."

But parents say smaller schools have important perks.

"It's just impossible to be somebody — to be on a sports team, to be on the debate team, to make the top ten, to get a recommendation from a teacher," Friedman said. "Who's going to want to teach there?"

Jenkins said the sudden rise in students at West will last up to three years, followed by a steady decline.

But that new didn't ease the concerns of parents.

"The students in the hallways will just be overcrowded," Riggs said. "Their education is being diluted because of a poor decision by the Plano school board."

Some parents called on the school board to put the boundary issue back on the table. That would take a majority vote of the board, which isn't likely anytime soon.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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