New data released Monday shows the way Wichita Falls secondary schools would look if enrollment were determined by former attendance zones, not the Choice Program.
If students had no say in the school they attended, Hirschi High School would be smaller by 200 students, Wichita Falls High School would be larger by 200 mostly white students, and Rider High School would look virtually the same.
At the junior highs, McNiel would change the most, losing 150 students. Zundelowitz Junior High would add the most — 119 students — and shift racially to serve 100 more Hispanics and 200 more free/reduced lunch children.
Barwise would add 100 students, with fewer of them Hispanics and more of them white. Kirby — already small at 356 students — would shrink further to 259 and lose half of its white population.
"Choice does change the makeup of a school and certainly the numbers," said Renae Murphy, public information officer, who discussed the research after a Monday work session of the Wichita Falls Independent School District.
Board members were handed the new data at the start of the work session, prompting board member Allyson Flack to ask, "Can we get data earlier?"
According to the WFISD study, the Choice Plan costs taxpayers by requiring seven extra home-to-school bus routes and 17 shuttles from campus-to-campus.
"An average of 225 students per day ride a shuttle bus from their 'home school' to their 'choice school,' " according to the report.
At $25,000 to $30,000 per bus route, the Choice Plan costs an extra $210,000 in bus costs.
The Choice Plan also requires the district to pay more in fuel, to purchase extra buses to cover the additional routes and to use staff time to monitor shuttle locations. Most daily route times would also decrease without Choice.
Under the Choice Program, the various elementary schools tend to favor certain junior high schools.
Most Alamo students choose Barwise or Zundy. Most Burgess, Haynes, Scotland Park and Washington/Jackson students attend Kirby. Most Crockett students choose Zundy or Barwise. Cunningham, Fowler, Jefferson, Milam and Fain students trend toward McNiel. Overwhelmingly, West students choose McNiel.
Franklin, Southern Hills and Houston students head to Barwise.
When junior high students choose a high school, preferences are mixed. A majority of McNiel students choose Rider. Most Zundy students choose Wichita Falls High School, and Kirby students favor Hirschi.
Barwise students mostly favor WFHS and Rider.
When junior high students didn't make a school choice and a decision was made for them, the majority were sent to Kirby.
Special education students in the high schools who didn't file a choice were mostly assigned to WFHS or Hirschi.
None was assigned to Rider.
In general, WFHS absorbed most of the students who did not file a Choice preference.
WFISD Superintendent John Frossard noted that with Rider at its enrollment cap, the other schools were required to take on the bulk of students who often have special needs and lag behind in making choices as requested.
Frossard said he would prefer to fill a school like Rider to 90 percent capacity to create some leeway for families who move in to the Rider neighborhood and want to attend the nearest school.
The district must also find a way to address the city's growth to the south and west, Frossard said.
Follow Ann Work on Twitter @AnnWork1.