Northwest ISD is gearing up to open its sixth new school in two years, retaining its status as one of the fastest-growing districts in North Texas. In January, NISD trustees approved the rezoning of three elementary schools in preparation for the opening of Perrin Elementary this fall.

NISD covers 234 square miles and 14 municipalities across three counties. The district serves more than 30,000 students in 34 schools and is only 35% built out. It must constantly balance student enrollment numbers with what Assistant Superintendent for Facilities Tim McClure has referred to as “explosive growth.”

The growth

Officials said enrollment growth is a direct reflection of the number of new homes under construction and homes purchased in NISD.

Zonda Education, a firm that calculates student enrollment projections, states housing numbers for NISD include:
  • 64 subdivisions with active construction
  • 37 future subdivisions planned
  • 5,930 lots with groundwork underway
  • 16 multifamily developments in the planning phase
“You’ve got 11 elementary [attendance] zones that are building more than 150 homes per year,” Bob Templeton, a vice president with Zonda Education, told the NISD board at its Dec. 11 meeting.

He compared NISD’s growth to neighboring Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD, where 150 new homes per year are being built in four elementary attendance zones.

“You’re growing all across the district, and the developers are not slowing down,” Templeton said. “Bottom line, your elementary [school] total is going to be 18,000 kids in five years."

Voters passed a $2 billion bond package in 2023 that included funding for facilities to accommodate 8,400 additional students.

McClure said Zonda Education’s data also helps guide the decision-making process for where to build these new schools.

“We work with Zonda’s software that allows us to change boundary lines to update the projections accordingly,” McClure said. “We map these changes for travel distances and then overlay any future land purchases to consider potential future changes.”

In January, Place 7 trustee Jennifer Murphy asked how programs are affected by such fast changes. Superintendent Mark Foust said programs like special education and bilingual—two of the fastest-growing populations in the district—can move to other campuses based on where students live in the district.

“Programs are portable,” Foust said.

The updated elementary attendance zones for the 2024-25 school year can be found here.

Shifting boundaries

Whenever a new school like Perrin Elementary is planned, it begins a necessary conversation about shifting attendance boundaries, McClure said.

While only elementary students will be affected by boundary adjustments due to the opening of Perrin, staff established the following recommendations for all schools across the district for future growth:
  • Students starting fifth grade in 2024-25 would be eligible to remain at their existing elementary school.
  • Students starting eighth grade in 2024-25 would be eligible to remain at their existing middle school.
  • Students starting 11th and 12th grades next school year would be eligible to remain at their existing high school.
  • Students choosing to remain at their current campuses would not receive bus transportation, and younger siblings would not be eligible for bus transportation.
The context

Perrin Elementary is located in the still-developing Wildflower Ranch community. According to the district website, NISD annually faces an overall enrollment increase of about 1,400 to 1,600 new students a year as more houses are built in the area. In the next decade, growth at Perrin is expected to increase 179%, at which point it will be over capacity, officials said. These projections operate with the assumption that no other school opens in the next decade to provide relief.

During a Jan. 8 presentation, McClure reiterated the guidelines he and his staff use to make attendance boundary adjustments. They include:
  • Preventing campus overcrowding
  • Preventing campus overcrowding
  • Maintaining student-to-teacher ratios
  • Minimizing future boundary changes and its impact on students
  • Improving efficiency of schools
  • Considering the opening of new campuses
What’s next?

When asked whether he envisions the district transitioning to smaller secondary schools, McClure said it would be highly unlikely.

“This would require maintaining more school buildings and more administrative staff, which costs taxpayers more,” McClure said.

McClure added land purchase costs are also rising, which makes shifting to additional school buildings more expensive.

He noted the tax rate remains low because of the strong tax base spread across the district’s 234 square miles. He mentioned a large district offers its students options not available in smaller districts.

“We provide programs and services that would otherwise not be available to smaller communities,” McClure said.