Hundreds attend LISD forum, question school closure ideas,  Hundreds attend LISD forum, especially one south elementary 

By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News 

Hundreds of parents voiced their concerns, asked questions and shared comments about the idea that one elementary school in Steiner Ranch could be closed in the years ahead. This happened during a Leander ISD forum earlier this month at Vandegrift.

“I feel like we’re getting the short end of the stick. I think that’s where a lot of the tension is coming from,” one LISD parent shared. “It feels like something is being taken from us.”

“You are making a bet with our children’s future,” another audience member shared. 

“Allow us an opportunity to brainstorm,” said another.

“This feels rushed,” another parent commented.

“You did this (forum) because you found out we were pissed,” said another parent. “Can we get a commitment from you to pause this discussion for two to three years?”

The March 6 meeting started with Laurelyn Arterbury, LISD chief of staff, and Jimmy Disler, LISD chief facilities officer, sharing a presentation at the LISD community forum. They shared the reasons for zoning shifts in the district and why the district is considering repurposing two of the eight schools in the southern part of the district.

There is extreme growth in the north and declining student population in the south. LISD looked at a scenario in December 2021 where it shifted students to fill the schools in the south with about 10,000 students from the north. But that is not feasible and the distance is too far in the 200 square mile district.

Projections over the next eight to 10 years show the eight campuses in the Four Points area will be underutilized including three in Steiner. All schools in the central part of the district are also at reduced capacity, Arterbury shared at the forum

In the 2024-2025 school year, LISD projects to have 1,356 students at Steiner Ranch, Bush and River Ridge elementary campuses. This number of students could be served on two campuses, she explained.

After the presentation, hundreds of attendees were encouraged to make comments or share ideas at stations set up throughout the cafeteria, but community members asked for a Q&A so everyone could hear comments, questions and responses.

LISD Superintendent Bruce Gearing fielded questions and comments for nearly two hours before ending the meeting around 9 p.m. after everyone was done.

“We want to try to answer questions as best we can,” Gearing said.


One audience member questioned why the presentation was not originally scheduled in the south when others were scheduled in the north and central parts of the district.

“You’re right that the numbers do have an impact in the long term,” Gearing said. “We are here (now) and we want to learn.” 

Another from the audience asked why the south is a second thought to the district? 

“We need to organize together and fight. What they call the south, we call home,” the parent shared.

Demographer’s conclusion

Several community members asked about the demographer’s conclusion, and a couple of parents think that the process is flawed.

“Can we get a second opinion on that data,” someone asked.

Gearing explained more about the demographers: They are K-12 demographic professionals, Population and Survey Analysts. 

“Demography is an art and it is a science,” said Gearing who has worked with PASA in three different school districts. “They talk to developers… Once they know and understand land use and how it affects housing, single family and multifamily, they apply a ratio and then apply the student population.” 

Demographers give three projections: low, most likely and high. Gearing shared that the district trusts the PASA projections.

“I have to bring a data set to the table. It’s the best that I have and have used it and trusted it for years,” he said. “PASA has access to that data and I have to trust them that they have that as a data point.”


One parent asked, what happens if PASA got it wrong and trailers have to be used because the schools are out of space? From their population research, the community appears to have 1,000 children under 5 years of age.

Some questioned the district on consolidating schools and feel that overcrowding will result.

“Our intent is not to overcrowd any school,” Gearing said. “We’re not going to close a school and let the others be overcrowded.”


The board earmarked $37 million for repurposing a school in the south.

If voters approve the bond, that doesn’t mean that the repurposing will happen but you have to know the possibility exists, he said.

“If they stay as they are, we have to do something fiscally responsible,” Gearing said.

“I certainly hope the numbers are wrong. The absolute last thing we want to do is close a school, but we have to do something fiscally responsible,” Gearing said.

If the numbers don’t come true, LISD does not have to spend the money the voters approve, he added.

“If the bond fails, we will still close the schools if demographic’s warrant it,” Gearing shared. “If there is no money (to repurpose), the other two choices are to shutter it up or sell it.”

“If the bond fails, I don’t have money to spend, then we have to regroup,” he added.

Annexation idea

Annexation was brought up by a resident and got some cheers from the audience. 

“I don’t want to do that because you’re part of our family, a very valuable part of our family,” Gearing shared. “There’s a lot of legal and political wrangling that has to happen to annex.”

Final thoughts

All Steiner schools are top rated, and one parent shared that increasing the occupancy would likely decrease the rating.

“In Steiner, it’s literally all about the schools,”  shared another community member. “There’s no reason to live there if not for the schools.”