At State of Dripping Springs presentation, focus is on growth

Superintendent Bruce Gearing reported on the strengths and challenges of the local school system at the State of Dripping Springs meeting.

Superintendent Bruce Gearing reported on the strengths and challenges of the local school system at the State of Dripping Springs meeting.

At the State of Dripping Springs presentation held April 18, assembled Dripping Springs residents heard from school and city officials about progress and current projects of note in the city. A common theme underscored the presentations: the effects of explosive growth in the Dripping Springs Area.

The event was organized by Corridor Title and hosted at the Amenities Center at the Headwaters development.

An expanding school district

Dripping Springs ISD Superintendent Bruce Gearing summarized growth projections for the school district, notably, that enrollment would likely double in the next decade, as representatives from Population and Survey Analysts of Texas reported to the board of trustees at their March 25 meeting. The most imminent plans to accommodate this growth include the construction of a new elementary school. While a high school expansion project is upcoming, Gearing said even more space would be needed for district high schoolers in the coming years, meaning either another expansion or an additional school would be needed.

“This community has to decide in the next year if we’re going to be a one high school town or a two high school town,” Gearing said.

Gearing said a full demographic report would be presented at a public meeting on May 23.

Developing Dripping Springs town center

Kenan Smith, project manager for the Dripping Springs Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone program, said the “tsunami of growth” in population coming to Dripping Springs was also affecting plans for new development in the town center, including welcoming new businesses onto Old Fitzhugh Road and assessing parking needs in the historic district. According to Smith, TIRZ team members are interested in “preserving the small-town character of Dripping Springs” by balancing modern business concepts with historically consistent design.

“It’s all about the harmonious and careful balancing of new and old,” said Smith.

Hiring DSISD workers

Before Gearing spoke, Patrick Rose implied that Dripping Springs’ school district—which has 100% graduation rate, as of 2018, according to the superintendent—as being a key reason many families move to the city.

“Show of hands, who lives in Dripping Springs Independent School District?” Rose asked. After hands went up, he added, “and who moved here because of Dripping Springs Independent School District?”

However, while growth may reflect positively on the reputations of the Dripping Springs community and schools, Gearing said filling certain staff positions has become difficult. According to the superintendent, 49% of DSISD employees currently live in the district, with “auxiliary positions” such as school bus drivers and janitorial workers finding to difficult to afford steepening home prices in Dripping Springs.

Citywide development

Dripping Springs Director of Planning Jason Lutz outlined other development and plans throughout the city, including a new apartment complex in Belterra, office warehouses on Sportsplex Drive and the 500-acre Driftwood Development agreement. He also noted that a new 5,000 square foot commercial office building would coming to the city.

Lutz emphasized the importance of expansion plans for the city’s wastewater treatment plant, which recently received $43 million of support from the Texas Water Development Board, according to a press release from the city. The plan includes a “green” element, a distribution system providing direct potable reuse.

“We’ve come a long way as a community in the past couple of years,” said Rose, in conclusion.
By Olivia Aldridge
Olivia is the reporter for Community Impact's Central Austin edition. A graduate of Presbyterian College in upstate South Carolina, Olivia was a reporter and producer at South Carolina Public Radio before joining Community Impact in Austin.


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