Apartment developments to draw more students to Four Points, Schools can handle the growth, officials say


Construction at Aria at Steiner Ranch at 4800 Steiner Ranch Blvd. is ongoing while a large number of the buildings are finished with occupancy at 50 percent. Over the next two years, Aria and Tacara Steiner Ranch will add nearly 550 new units combined, both feeding into Steiner Ranch Elementary.  Photo by Lynette Haaland

Construction at Aria at Steiner Ranch at 4800 Steiner Ranch Blvd. is ongoing while a large number of the buildings are finished with occupancy at 50 percent. Over the next two years, Aria and Tacara Steiner Ranch will add nearly 550 new units combined, both feeding into Steiner Ranch Elementary.
Photo by Lynette Haaland

By CASSIE MCKEE, Four Points News

Five new apartment developments in or near the Four Points area are expected to be built and fully occupied within the next two years. While the developments may attract a significant number of families with school-aged children, local officials say schools in Four Points can handle the growth.

Two of the developments are already built. The largest of the five, Escape at Four Points, located near River Place Elementary, has 344 units and is currently 80 percent occupied. Currently, only 30 LISD students live among the 275 occupied units, according to Dr. Stacy Tepera of Population and Survey Analysts, who presented a demographic update to the LISD Board of Trustees in October. Tepera said the approximately 60 units remaining to be occupied will not likely have a major impact on student enrollment and may add only five to 10 additional students.

Tepera said the proposed Cardinal Point development, also near River Place Elementary, may have a higher number of students because the units are income-restricted. The project is subsidized by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs. Cardinal Point is expected to break ground in 2016 and will have 120 units.

“Population and Survey anticipates this to be much more student-oriented, and could add 80-100 students – approximately 40-50 elementary students – when fully occupied,” Tepera said.

Over the next two years, Aria at Steiner Ranch and Tacara Steiner Ranch will add 548 new units combined; both are near Steiner Ranch Elementary. (This number is updated from the report two weeks ago because Aria is developing 302 total units, not 195.)

Aria at Steiner Ranch is currently 50 percent occupied and currently has some 18 students in LISD living in the 108 occupied units, according to Tepera.

“When the remaining units become occupied, if they follow the same trend as the current occupants, Aria at Steiner Ranch could add approximately 35 new students,” Tepera said.    

Likewise, Population and Survey projected that Tacara Steiner Ranch could yield 42 students from its 246 units.

“Taken together, Population and Survey estimates that these two complexes could add about 75 additional students (or about 38 elementary students in Steiner Ranch Elementary), if they follow the current trajectory of student residents,” Tepera said.

Tepera noted that these are very conservative estimates, and these complexes could yield more students. If the complexes were to evolve to be similar to another development, Meritage at Steiner Ranch, which is more student-oriented, then together they could add 203 additional students, including 100 new students into Steiner Ranch Elementary.

Elementary campuses to remain below capacity

Tepera said despite the number of incoming students, Steiner Ranch Elementary can handle the growth.

“SRE has the capacity to handle these potential additional students,” Tepera said.

According to the demographic study, the student enrollment at SRE is actually projected to drop over the next 10 years, declining from 585 students in 2016 to 573 students in 2025. This is due to a smaller number of kindergarten students entering the school each year, Tepera said. Capacity at SRE is 871 students.

“If we presume that future incoming kindergarten classes will be a similar size to the current kindergarten class, and this smaller class replaces a large out-going fifth grade class, then the school overall will see a decline in population,” Tepera said.

While that is not the only factor considered in Population and Survey’s projections of student population, it explains the overall slight decline in projected elementary school population, she said.

“There could be many reasons for this aging effect: housing prices could be precluding the youngest home buyers from buying in Steiner, and/or as students graduate and leave home, the now empty-nest parents remain in their Steiner Ranch homes rather than selling to younger families with children,” she said. “This is not an unexpected trend in highly desirable communities like Steiner Ranch.”

Enrollment at River Place Elementary is expected to grow over the next 10 years, from 757 students in 2016 to 814 students in 2025. This is still under the school’s capacity, which is 848 students.

“Projections suggest that both elementary schools can handle the growth,” said Pam Waggoner, LISD Board of Trustee member. “River Place Elementary should reach 89 percent practical capacity and Steiner Ranch Elementary will reach 70 percent practical capacity.”

Waggoner said LISD prepared for the growth within Steiner Ranch by rezoning each of the elementary schools last year.

“Although we never say never, currently we are not planning on re-zoning again,” she said.

At the middle schools level, both Four Points Middle School and Canyon Ridge Middle School are also expected to stay below capacity over the next 10 years. Though CRMS is expected to be at 99 percent capacity in 2016, enrollment is expected to decline in following years.

Waggoner said the district should be able to handle the growth over the next several years in the Four Points Area with its current buildings and will supplement with portables as needed. No new schools are planned to be built in the Four Points area.

“Of course, these are only projections and can change depending on the economy, the area, or legislative changes dealing with public schools,” Waggoner said. “We update our demographics every year and remain flexible to any changes that need to be made.”

While a maturing school district means fewer young families with small children are moving in, it can also mean that older families with older children are moving in, which is a contributing factor to the growth at Vandegrift High School, which is currently at 100 percent capacity and expected to grow.

The fifth new apartment development, Windy Ridge Apartments, is under construction at 10910 N. RR 620. While not directly in Four Points, students who will live at the 120-unit development are currently zoned to attend Grandview Hills Elementary, Four Points Middle School and Vandegrift High School. The project received a 9 percent housing tax credit from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs. It is being developed by Realtx Development Corp.

Enrollment at VHS is expected to grow from 2,409 students in 2016 to 2,664 students in 2020. The growth is expected to stop growing at that point, however, and is projected to remain at 2,662 students in 2025, still at 111 percent capacity.

The district plans to build its seventh high school in 2024, according to current projections.