District expected to grow by 6,000 students in the next 10 years
For a fast-growth school district like Pflugerville, purchasing land to accommodate expected growth is a critical piece of its long-term planning. Demographers expect the 23,000-student school district to double in size before it is finished growing, with more than 6,000 additional students projected by 2023. The district has opened 12 campuses in the last 12 years and is preparing to keep up that pace as families continue to pour into the family-friendly Pflugerville community.
The district’s highest-growth area is east of State Highway 130. Five schools have opened in the region in the last 12 years; Hendrickson High School, Kelly Lane Middle School, and Murchison, Rowe Lane and Riojas elementary schools. A sixth campus, Cele Middle School, is under construction and scheduled to open for the 2013-14 school year. Demographers expect this area to continue its steady housing growth in the years to come.
To address increased enrollment, the PISD Board of Trustees recently approved the purchase of land to house the district’s fourth high school, plus another middle school and elementary campus in the future. The property, located on Weiss Lane near Lake Pflugerville, is a 149-acre tract that is attractive to the district for several reasons.
“Purchasing land is one of the most important investments a school district makes on the operational side of the house,” Chief Financial Officer Dr. Kenneth Adix said. “We must identify land in areas of expected growth, while at the same time taking into consideration existing infrastructure like roads, water, sewer and electricity.
“Most importantly,” Adix continued, “we must be good stewards of taxpayer dollars with whatever purchases we make. Establishing infrastructure could cost millions of dollars, so finding property with infrastructure already in place is a huge consideration. The Weiss Lane tract meets all our needs.”
The Weiss Lane property is located in an area expected to grow significantly in the coming years. Few pieces of property of this size in the area are currently for sale, and when factoring in the specific needs for school construction, even fewer meet PISD’s requirements.
“The Weiss Lane tract has available utilities, is on level ground, has few building restrictions and the city and county already have projects planned to improve roads in the area,” Adix said. “Those considerations made it a more viable option than other properties that may have been available.”
Adix noted the need for the district to remain ahead of the curve when purchasing land.
“Our demographic projections have been on target, and even with a slower economy, families are still moving to our district,” Adix said. “The old saying, ‘Buy land, they’re not making it anymore,’ certainly applies to our situation in Pflugerville. We know the growth is coming, and it is critical that we purchase land at the right time and in the right location for our future facilities. Long-range planning is essential to the overall success of our district.
”The district has property in place for its next four planned campuses – Cele Middle School, which is currently under construction, and three elementary campuses. Once the district completes it due diligence and finalizes the $5.96 million purchase, the 149-acre Weiss Lane tract will eventually house a comprehensive high school, a middle school and an elementary school.
“Our community has been very supportive of our plans to build high school four,” Adix said. “We were at the point where we needed to purchase land for the school, and the Weiss Lane property was available and met our needs for future facilities.”
District voters in 2007 approved bond funds to begin planning for PISD’s fourth high school. PISD leaders expect to bring forward a bond proposition to voters in May 2013, which will include funding for additional facilities to accommodate anticipated growth. The funds to construct high school four will be included in the bond.