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School board discusses future district growth

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During their first online meeting on Monday, May 18, the Elgin Independent School District board of trustees listened to a presentation summarizing population growth in the district.

Representatives from Population and Survey Analysts (PASA), a research firm that specializes in working with high-growth school districts, presented their findings from a months-long study of Elgin ISD, analyzing population trends in the area and offering suggested plans for the school district to accommodate upcoming growth.

The entire presentation and report from PASA is included in the agenda packet for the May 18 school board meeting, which can be found through the Elgin ISD website at www. elginisd.net/Page/1346.

Justin Silhavy from PASA walked the board through the first half of the presentation, which looked at growth projections in the school district and the various factors that affect this population growth.

The COVID-19 pandemic has added certain factors and conditions to the report. However, Silhavy said “the water has cleared,” although the situation is still fluid. When the pandemic hit, PASA had already collected most of its data, but Elgin ISD asked to push back the presentation of the report by a month; in that time, interviews have shown that builders and developers are “not as skittish as they were two months ago.”

The presentation then featured a series of graphs showing numbers of students enrolled in the Austin Metro area school districts and the one-year change in numbers. Elgin is now in the top 15 school districts out of 31 districts regarding numeric change in enrollment over one year, with 116 new students between Fall 2018 and Fall 2019, and ranking 14th in percent change with 2.6 percent growth.

The analysis also looks at charter and private schools, which could affect attendance at Elgin ISD campuses as students transfer out of the district. Silhavy said Elgin ISD is not greatly affected by charter schools, but it is something they should watch out for. However, about six percent of the Elgin ISD student population is transferring to attend other school districts. About 89.3 percent of Elgin ISD’s resident students are attending Elgin ISD, which is a little lower than the average of around 93 percent. A major nearby charter school that could affect Elgin ISD is a 1,500-student K-12 IDEA charter school campus in Manor, opening in fall 2021, where between 15 and 25 percent of students could come from Elgin ISD.

Then, the presentation focused on housing and upcoming development projects in the district.

Over the next ten years, the report identifies a total of 10,275 new housing units in the school district. Some of the development projects that will have the largest impacts in the first five years will be Elm Creek North, Homestead Estates, Summer Moon, Peppergrass, Saratoga Farms II and Los Senderos. The development projects that will be more important in the second half of the next ten years include Brickston, Harvest Ridge, Trinity Ranch, Manor Heights and Eagle’s Landing. The County Line Road corridor is one of the emerging growth areas in the district, and build-on-your-own-lot subdivisions, such as Las Colinas or Summer Moon, are likely to increase south of Elgin along FM 1704 and State Highway 95. These build-on-your-own-lot neighborhoods, where individuals buy lots to move in a manufactured house or build their own home, tend to yield more students per household, the report said. In the latter half of the next ten years, Brickston and Manor Heights, a subdivision where a third of the lots will be in Elgin ISD’s jurisdiction, will bring more housing to the far west portion of the district.

The report gives three scenarios for growth, with a moderate growth scenario and a higher and a lower estimate. In 2020, Elgin ISD enrollment is 4,718, a 3.71 percent increase from the previous year. Under the moderate growth scenario, Elgin ISD could see 9,930 students in 2029, with a 9.69 percent increase from the previous year. When looking at the projections in the long term ten years out, there’s a larger gap between the low- and high-growth scenario.

Next, Kris Pool from PASA presented suggested ideas for the district to build new schools and update attendance zones as the student population in the district grows. Pool said PASA’s proposed plan is one of many ways for the district to plan for growth, and this plan may not be anywhere close to what the district does.

The analysis broke down the district by elementary school attendance zones and projected the increase in attendance in those zones through the next ten years. As the number of students projected for each elementary school reaches campus capacity, the report adds suggested new elementary schools at certain years. The report did the same with the middle and intermediate schools, as well as gave an estimated time when new high schools or an expanded high school might be needed.

Read more online at www.elgincourier.com.