Dennison, Sherman superintendents want Rockwall schools in District 13-A


By J.J. Smith. The superintendents of the Denison and Sherman Independent School Districts have filed a formal appeal against last week’s UIL realignment that requires the two Grayson County towns to participate in sports in Mt. Pleasant and Texarkana, which are over 100 miles away.

In a letter to the UIL Appeals Committee, Dr. Henry Scott of Denison and Dr. Al Hambrick of Sherman suggested moving Denison ISD and Sherman ISD to District 10-A, and moving Rockwall and Rockwall-Heath to District 13-A.

They argued that Rockwall ISD schools could make the trips to Texarkana and Mr. Pleasant much easier on Interstate highways with drive times considerably less than those for Denison and Sherman.

The superintendents met Monday to discuss the problems presented by the new changes as well as possible solutions. Both agreed that the primary problems created by the new alignment involve decreased student time in the classroom and greatly increased time spent traveling. They also agreed that the only solution would be an appeal to the UIL Appeals Committee.

“When traveling to games as far away as Texarkana and Mount Pleasant, our students would have to leave school much earlier to arrive in time for games…and some sports have more than one game per week, said Hambrick. “That translates into less time in classrooms for our student athletes.”

“In recent years, we have traveled to schools in the Frisco and McKinney areas, a situation that was much more reasonable in that our kids could be at most games in a little over an hour, making round trip travel time two to three hours. Under the new alignment, those travel times have basically been tripled or quadrupled.”

Scott agreed, adding that mid-week competitions were of special concern. “We’re particularly concerned about the games that will require between 2.5 and 3.5 hours of mid-week travel time, such as baseball, volleyball, softball, tennis, soccer, girls and boys basketball…and also our JV and freshman football teams.”

“That’s five to seven total hours spent traveling to and from these games, putting our kids back home at well past midnight. A lot of kids will be negatively affected by this, not to mention the increased costs for travel. From an academic and student performance standpoint, this is simply not a good situation.”

“Total round trip drive time from Rockwall to Texarkana is approximately 4 hours and 40 minutes, roughly half the time that will be required of Sherman or Denison to make the trip,” said Hambrick.

“Similarly, Rockwall’s round trip drive-time to and from Mt. Pleasant is estimated at three hours, which is two hours less than the time it would take our buses to make the trip.”

Both also mentioned safety as yet another reason for officials to grant the appeal, noting that the creation of a District 13-4A centered around I-30 seems a logical choice since driving conditions and times would be so much better for the districts involved.

“The children of Denison ISD and Sherman ISD deserve the best opportunity available to achieve and succeed in school as a means to a bright future,” said Scott. “The demands of balancing studies with sports are daunting at best, but our students work hard to meet their many obligations. We sincerely hope that the UIL Committee will help us ensure that our children are not unnecessarily burdened by changing our district’s placement to one that is more conducive to student success.”

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