Stemming from a recommendation during RISD’s strategic planning process in 2018, and after extensive study by the district’s grade configuration committee in 2019, RISD made the decision to pursue the implementation of a middle school instructional model, with students in grades 6, 7 and 8 attending middle schools while students in grades PreK through 5 attend elementary schools. The academic and social/emotional benefits for sixth-grade students in a middle school model are numerous; and RISD is one of only 5% of Texas school districts still using a junior high model.
This decision has a direct impact on Bond 2021 and an expected impact on future bond packages (see long range bond planning). Additional space and renovations will be needed at all eight RISD junior highs to accommodate sixth-graders. Based on the condition of the junior high campuses — all of which were constructed between 1956 and 1978 — some would be replaced while others would be renovated. These efforts are planned to span the 2021 and 2026 bonds. Sixth-graders in the Lake Highlands learning community would be the first to transition to a middle school model as a result of projects from the 2021 bond, including renovations at Forest Meadow junior high and the replacement of Lake Highlands junior high. Transformation of the junior highs in the other three RISD learning communities would result from the projects expected to be included in a 2026 bond package.