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Farmers Branch Weighs Creating School District

Mayor proposes the city separate from Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD

By Susy Solis
|  Monday, Dec 6, 2010  |  Updated 6:46 PM CDT
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The mayor of <a title=Farmers Branch wants to create a new school district for his city alone." />

Susy Solis, NBCDFW.com

The mayor of Farmers Branch wants to create a new school district for his city alone.

The Farmers Branch City Council is getting legal advice about the possibility of creating a school district for the city.

Mayor Tim O'Hare and the Carrollton-Farmer's Branch Independent School District have been at odds since O'Hare criticized the district for giving a Hispanic advocacy group permission to mentor students at school within the district.

The proposal to create a Farmers Branch district came soon after, but O'Hare said the timing is coincidental. He said the city has been trying to opt out of its partnership with the Carrollton-Farmer's Branch ISD for years.

O'Hare says a new district would create better schools which would, in turn, help property values appreciate.

He also said a new high school in town would draw more community support. Farmers Branch, which has a population of more than 31,000 people, doesn't have a high school within its city limits.

Councilman Ben Robinson said he supports the idea.

"I think it would be great," he said. "It would be a small district to begin with, and that creates a lot of harmony, if you will, if the school district is limited to a small geographical area."

Parents are split on whether the city should explore the idea.

"Farmers Branch has grown, and I think Farmers Branch needs it own school district to give better quality to the children," said Marta Castilleja, who has children who attend an elementary school in the city.

"I don't know if the city could have the funding for it," said Garvin Reynolds, a parent in Farmers Branch.

To create a new district, the city must get approval from Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD and Dallas Independent School District boards or get 10 percent of registered voters to sign a petition.

The city's biggest challenge could be the state's requirement of 8,000 students to create a new district. O'Hare said he is prepared to talk to state legislators to make it happen.

"The obstacles are at least worth exploring," he said. "We owe it to our city to make sure we've explored all possible avenues to make Farmers Branch the best city possible."

The City Council will discuss the viability of the proposal on Tuesday in executive session with an Austin-based attorney who is an expert is school district litigation.

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