The Rockwall Independent School District is looking at the possibility of turning the existing H.E. Utley Freshman Center into a career theme-based, magnet-type school.

With the addition of the new Rockwall-Heath High School, the Utley Freshman Center will soon be vacant as the ninth grade is going to be moved back onto the high school campuses.

In an effort to better serve students who attend Rockwall schools, the RISD is exploring many options to deliver greater learning opportunities to all students so that they graduate with marketable and college preparatory skills, district officials said.

Leta Durrett, Ph.D. is a consultant in the RISD Career and Technical Education Department. She is gathering input to see what would be best served by a new specialized campus for RISD.

“We’re looking at a variety of career-themed areas,” Durrett said. “I’ve been making a lot of site visits to outstanding blue ribbon programs. Most of these have been magnet-type schools. Right now we’re leaning toward an ‘academy’ design. It’s similar to a magnet school, with a career-themed program combined with core classes.”

To determine the level of community interest, the RISD has been collecting data from a variety of sources. One of those is through a

“We have two online surveys going on right now,” Durrett said. “One of them is for parents and one of them is for the community. If people go to www.rockwallisd.com there will be a link to the survey, and then they can choose between a survey for parents or community.”

The online questionnaire is only one source of input that the district is looking at. It is also working with local organizations.

“We’re also going through as many community organizations as we can. We’ve gone through the (Rockwall County) Chamber of Commerce, the Rockwall Women’s League, and the Friends of the Library, for example. We’re also doing surveys among teachers and students in grades six through 11,” Durrett said.

The survey will be online until today and the absolute deadline for getting results back is on May 15, Durrett said.

The district is expected to have the results of the survey at the end of this month.

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