By RICH KEITH, Four Points News
More than 1,400 new students are expected to fill the halls of schools in Four Points over the next decade.
Leander ISD commissioned Population and Survey Analysts Inc. to complete a demographic update. The report released last week both affirms and challenges some long-held beliefs about LISD and Four Points.
LISD grows 29.5 percent in five years
In terms of growth, LISD still is among the fastest-growing districts in the state. Only Lake Travis outstripped LISD’s growth over the last five years. Lake Travis grew 33.7 percent while LISD grew 29.5 percent.
However, the absolute growth of LISD was 6,815 students over the same time period as compared to Lake Travis, which grew only by 2,071 students.
Leander’s absolute growth locally was challenged only by Round Rock ISD, which grew by 4,797 students over the last five years.
Projected growth for Four Points schools
River Ridge Elementary is projected to grow in the next 10 years from 979 to 1,083 students, which will make it the largest elementary school in the southern part of the school district.
Over the next decade, other Four Points’ elementary schools will experience growth: River Place is projected to grow from 790 to 878 students; Grandview Hills from 486 to 576, Steiner Ranch from 651 to 720, and Laura W. Bush from 761 to 766 students.
Local middle schools will grow by several hundred students each between now and 2023. Four Points Middle School is projected to grow from 659 students today to 817, and Canyon Ridge is to grow from 1,315 to 1,502 students.
Vandegrift High School will continue to be overcrowded and in need of expansion projects such as the two new buildings projected to be finished by the spring. Vandegrift’s 2014 projected enrollment of 2,160 students will grow rapidly to 2,905 students by 2023.
Four Points schools will continue to balloon but all new LISD schools to be built are proposed for the far north or northeast area of the district. These areas are seeing the highest projected growth.
High School No. 6 is proposed to be built in 2015-2016 in the far north of the district.
This is true even though Steiner Ranch and River Place still hold among the top numbers for the ratio of students per occupied household, according to the report.
LISD growth drivers
Drivers of overall district growth during 2001 through 2007 included immigration from the city core, readily-available mortgages, a perception of higher quality of life and the availability of large undeveloped parcels of land in the right corridors. But these factors have changed today.
Since 2007, the lack of available mortgages and the economic recession have forced many would-be families farther from the Four Points area and LISD as a whole.
Indeed, there are fewer kindergarten students in LISD today than in 2007. At the same time kindergarten enrollment has exploded closer to the urban core and in farther-out areas of south, east and far north Austin.
These areas were unprepared for kindergarten growth, while the Four Points area is now seeing a reduction in full kindergarten classrooms. The report indicates that these cycles, while normal, have been more pronounced over the last five to six years.
Another factor noted by the demographer, Leander ISD’s percentage increase of “Economically Disadvantaged” populations is lower than surrounding communities. Leander’s ED rose only 4 percent to 21.9 percent as compared to rises of 10 percent in Pflugerville, 12 percent in Bastrop, 12 percent in Manor, 13 percent in Johnson City, 12 percent in Burnet, 9 percent in Del Valle, 8 percent in Liberty Hill and 9 percent in Georgetown ISD.