Experts: Three new schools will be needed
Growth will require adding two elementary and one middle school over decade.
The Lake Travis school district will need two new elementary schools and a new middle school within the next decade to keep up with projected student population growth, demographers told the school board during a recent board meeting.
It comes as no surprise that Lake Travis, is a high-growth district. But the growth is even more drastic than demographers thought, as the district has the highest rate of student population growth in the five-county metro area over the past five years. The growth rate over the past decade has bypassed the conservative estimates of Population and Survey Analysts by about 5.8 percent.
This year, the district has 9,825 students. For the 2017-18 school year, the district is expected to hit 10,388 students, and even using conservative estimates of development and migration to the area, the elementary student population is expected to surpass the capacity of the district’s elementary schools enough to require a new elementary school in 2020, and then another in 2022. West Cypress Hills and Serene Hills elementary schools will reach greater than 120 percent capacity first, then Bee Cave Elementary will reach greater than 120 percent capacity two years later, the College Station-based demographers said.
“You exceed utilization in 2020,” demographer Stacey Tepera told the school board. “That’s the threshold; that’s when the district needs to provide additional capacity. You can’t put more portables. You can’t feed kids on a suitable lunch schedule.”
The district’s two middle schools are expected to reach capacity along the same timeline, which Superintendent Brad Lancaster acknowledged would create challenges ahead. The demographers made a presentation the following night to a bond committee, which will ascertain how much money the district will need to ask voters to fund in a November bond election.
“Our tentative plan is to call a bond election in November 2017 for middle school 3 and elementary 7,” Lancaster said. “The good news with elementary 7 is it’s perfectly situated to open in 2020 right when (we reach capacity). The difficulty, as you can see, is the middle school would also open in 2020, and I don’t know if we (could) recommend portables for over 1,900 kids. Some incremental plan is on our horizon – I don’t know if we could do a temporary attendance zone. But this is an issue we’ll have to deal with if we call this bond election and assuming it passes.”
Despite the geographical constraints of developing in the Hill Country among so much preserve land, the demographers estimate that approximately 15,000 new housing units will be erected in the Lake Travis area within the next decade. In 2026, the demographers estimate the district could be admitting nearly 15,000 students in a low-growth scenario and more than 17,000 students in a highgrowth scenario.
Emlyn, 5, plays violin during the Toddler Talent Show at the Pflugerville Public Library.
Isaac, 4, sings the Alphabet Song, backward, at the show. Nearly 100 people attended.