On March 30, 2023, Plano ISD announced the decision to undergo a vertical alignment between feeder high schools and senior high schools. The district believes the change will enhance cohesion, student engagement and unity.
Currently, Plano ISD 9-10 campuses have their own identities. Aligning these schools will consist of unifying brands, mascots and colors of 9-10 campuses with their respective 11-12 senior high schools.
“Plano ISD’s unique configuration, as compared to a comprehensive 9-12 high school model, can cause scheduling challenges with other districts when competing,” a statement from Plano ISD read. “Recruitment of coaching staff is another challenge of this structure as compared to other districts.”
Plano ISD Athletics Department also began taking steps to evaluate the athletics program and identify needs to enhance student engagement and participation. Some of the issues identified included addressing small teams at the 10th-grade level and increasing player development.
“Our students are chasing that dream of being a Wildcat, Panther or Wolf,” said Plano ISD Director of Athletics Jeff Smith. “Everyone is going to be on the same team, and that will create a lot of enthusiasm and excitement as we’re all one team working in the same direction together.”
A community survey was opened to stakeholders last January, in which 2,576 out of 3,669 respondents supported alignment. Seventy-six percent of respondents believed that alignment will increase school spirit and unity within ninth through 12th-grade student groups.
“We believe this change will also enhance student engagement and increase participation while recognizing that some of our high school student-athletes are already competing at the senior high level,” said Plano ISD Superintendent Dr. Theresa Williams. “We want everyone to feel a strong sense of belonging and great school pride.”
Alignment changes will occur in phases over the next three years within the existing budgets. Uniforms will be aligned starting in the 2023-24 school year, and facility changes will be made in phases during that time.