By Brian New

RICHARDSON (CBSDFW.COM) – While many growing school districts in North Texas are building new schools, the Richardson Independent School District voted Monday night to expand its existing ones.

The school board voted 7-0 to add six classrooms to four elementary schools. Three of those schools are in the Lake Highlands area, where young families are moving into the older neighborhoods and causing a surge in the number of elementary school-aged students.

For weeks, at informational meetings, parents have expressed concerns to the school district about this plan. They want to keep their small neighborhood schools. “I know each one of you will be looking at the numbers, but I strongly urge you to listen to your hearts as well,” parent Matt Smith told the board minutes before it voted.

School board member Karen Ellis said that she understands the concerns. “Change is always difficult,” she said at the meeting, “because it raises uncertainty and questions.”

But in order to keep as many students as possible at their neighborhood school, and not have to bus them across the district, more space is needed.

Superintendent Kay Waggoner told parents at the board meeting that, if enrollment goes down after additional classrooms are added, the district has no plans to bus students in from elsewhere in the district to fill up the rooms. She said that each campus will be able to use the rooms as it seems fit.

The district told parents that their small neighborhood schools will remain, only come next year they will be a little bigger. “We have come up with a solution to meet the needs of our kids right now, in the least painful way,” said Ellis.

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