Ex­perts: Three new schools will be needed

Growth will re­quire adding two el­e­men­tary and one mid­dle school over decade.

Austin American-Statesman - - COMMUNITY NEWS - By Rachel Rice rrice@ac­n­news­pa­pers.com

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.

PHO­TOS BY MIKE PARKER / PFLUGERVILLE PFLAG

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.

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