LISD expected to grow by 9,000 students in next decade

Leander ISD Board of Trustees reviewed the district’s annual demographer report at the November 18 meeting and trustees weighed in and discussed next steps following the November bond election results.  

Demographic report

While long-term enrollment growth estimates have slowed slightly, the district’s annual demographic report nevertheless predicts Leander ISD to add nearly 2,000 new students in 2022. This is on top of LISD growing enrollment this school year, as the district is nearing 42,000 students. 

According to Populations and Survey Analysts (PASA), LISD will need to open eight schools (six elementary, one middle and one high) in the next decade to keep up with an expected 9,000 new students. 

Most of the growth is expected in the northern part of the district, where the majority of a 26% acceleration in new housing construction has been, spurred by historically low mortgage rates. Regeneration (older homeowners selling to younger homeowners) in our neighborhoods is expected to be driven by the area’s growing Millennial population (those born between 1980-1995). 

“The annual demographer report is a snapshot in time of our community, and we see subtle but distinct changes from one year to the next,” said Trish Bode, LISD board president. “The overarching theme continues to be that we are in a growing, vibrant and diverse community, and that will continue over the next decade.”

The district receives an annual demographic report that predicts population shifts within its boundaries. This helps in planning for new facility construction and the balancing of staff and district resources.

Bond election follow

LISD is exploring its options in the wake of the November 2 bond election. Voters approved only one of three propositions (Prop B, which focused on technology replacement), leaving questions to answer in how to accommodate the continuing growth in the district. Options to address this challenge include: 

  • using fund balance (the district’s savings account), 
  • reallocating operational budget (currently used predominantly for staffing), 
  • redrawing attendance zones to balance enrollments, 
  • utilizing portable classrooms and buildings, or 
  • calling another bond election. 

With proposition B passing, the district can replace laptops, tablets, printers, and other technology devices used by students and staff once they reach the end of their replacement cycle. The proposition also funded the replacement of projectors with interactive television panels, but the necessary classroom renovation to install the new technology existed in the rejected proposition A.

Trustees discussed next steps.

“I think we‘ve been given the gift of time, so we should really be looking at (building elementary) campuses that can hold 1,000 (students),” said Elexis Grimes, board secretary. “We’re seeing this kind of growth in the north and I think this helps us adjust to this. Give principals at an elementary campus the facility if those students are going to be there anyway.”  

”I personally would like to see a complete topic and agenda item on rezoning the entire district for elementary, middle and high school,” said Anna Smith, trustee. “We see the demographer report. How can we maximize the utilization of the buildings we have? Can we be more creative?”

“We didn’t just see the bond issue fail, we saw a significant deterioration in about 90 days in confidence in the district, district leadership, this team of eight,” said Aaron Johnson, trustee. “I think we have to own that. In a 90-day period, it wasn’t just a concern about the language of the ballot initiative, it was about us. It was about the product we’re delivering to the community or the perception of that product. We owe it to ourselves, we owe it to our community to dig deeply into the reasons behind that.” 

This is a portion of the recap of last week’s board meeting in the Leander ISD Board Briefs post at this link: