Homeowners oppose proposed White Rock Trail school in Richardson ISD

Parents push back against new school site

Enrollment in Richardson schools mean the district is on the hunt for potential new school locations.

It sounds like a good problem to have but a growing number of neighbors in the Lake Highlands area oppose a proposed location for an elementary school.

Drive down any street in the White Rock Valley neighborhood and you'll see the clearly marked blue and yellow "we have a voice" signs in several front yards.  

It's part of the organized opposition to the proposed White Rock Trail elementary school currently proposed on the southwest corner of Walnut Hill and White Rock Trail in Lake Highlands.

Richardson ISD wants to build the school to help alleviate overcrowding at White Rock Elementary, which enrollment forecasts nearly 1,000 students in the next few years. The school enrollment was forecasted to be close to 950 students for the 2016-17 school year that started three weeks ago.

Ali Cullum lives in White Rock Valley and sends her second grade son to nearby White Rock Elementary, a neighborhood school prized for its academics and walkability.  

"You don’t always have the opportunity to walk down the street to say hi to your friends and to know the parents,” Cullum said Tuesday as she walked her son home from school. "We’re hoping that if we do have to be in the group that moves to a new school that it is a safe comfortable environment that we can all feel good about.”

Cullum says she does not feel comfortable with the current site location based on traffic and the school's close proximity to a DART rail line.

Other homeowners, like Rahul Yodh, are concerned with increased traffic on interior streets from the new school which could lead to safety concerns for the students who already walk to school.

"It's absolutely the wrong spot," Yodh said.

Yodh created the group opposing the new school location and said Tuesday he is leaning on a 1978 city of Dallas deed restriction to prevent RISD from locating the school on the site it purchased earlier this year.

The deed restriction expressly conveys what type of building can be placed on the land and a school is not on the list.

"I think at this point the deed restriction is our best option," Yodh admits.

Richardson ISD doesn't agree with the interpretation of the deed neighbors like Yodh are taking.

“Nothing in the deed would prohibit the district from building a school on the site,” district spokesperson Tim Clark told WFAA.

Yodh countered he anticipates Dallas City council member Adam McGough to help neighbors fight to enforce the deed restriction if and when RISD approaches the city.

Inquiries to McGough on his position of the school location and the deed issue were not immediately returned Tuesday.

Clark says Richardson ISD is moving forward with planning for the school and anticipates having further design and attendance boundary details at the school board meeting on Monday September 12.

Cullum hopes the school board will take time to hear the continued concerns of parents in White Rock Valley.

"The train has not left the station," Cullum said. "We still have time to talk about this.”

Copyright 2016 WFAA


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