After experiencing slow growth during the past five years, McKinney ISD’s student enrollment is projected to surpass 25,000 students in the 2018-19 school year.
The growth trend of the school district in the past several years has not followed that of the city of McKinney. MISD grew 1.6 percent—from 24,443 students during the 2012-13 school year to 24,834 students as of the most recent count taken for the 2016-17 school year—and the city grew 27.7 percent from 2012 to January 2017.
However, both the school district and the city are expecting major growth in the city’s northwest sector, as residential developments, including Trinity Falls, Honeycreek, Timber Creek and Erwin Farms, come online.
“What’s difficult is when you try to compare the growth of McKinney to McKinney ISD,” MISD board President Curtis Rippee said. “There are several districts within the city of McKinney that are not McKinney ISD. … You’re going to have a disproportionate growth between the two entities. … Nevertheless, there’s going to be growth.”
The district’s demographer, Bob Templeton, said there are several factors that could affect a school district’s growth, including other area school options and the area’s housing market.
To estimate enrollment rates district demographers look at job growth in the north Dallas area, the housing market, birth rates, the number of children moving or graduating, and competition that may be drawing children to other school districts, said Templeton, who is the vice president of Metrostudy’s school district segment, which studies how the impact of housing influences education.
Competition is something Templeton said has become common in Texas in the past five years. MISD saw a drop in enrollment five or six years ago when charter school Imagine International Academy of North Texas opened in McKinney, he said.
“If you go back 20 years ago, if you lived in the school district, that’s where you went to school; whereas today there’s charter school options, [and]home schooling is a more viable option with technology improvements,” Templeton said.
McKinney’s housing stock mix of more expensive newer homes and less expensive existing homes could also be contributing to the district’s growth trend, Templeton said.
“In McKinney you have enough older housing stock,” he said. “The older housing stock is likely [attracting]some of those younger families because they can’t afford some of the newer homes.”
Much of the newer, more expensive housing is being purchased by baby boomers, empty nesters and older families, meaning that they are generally not bringing as many school-age children to the district, Templeton said.
Lewisville and Lewisville ISD are experiencing similar growth trends to that of McKinney and MISD, Templeton said.
“Lewisville is building a comparable number of new homes, so they’re building 1,000 new homes a year but yet they’re not growing and it’s because of the price range change,” he said. “It’s [also]because of the competition of charter [schools].”
Anticipating future schools
The city of McKinney issued 2,205 single-family home permits in 2016 and estimates to issue approximately 2,700 permits by the end of 2017, said Michael Quint, executive director of development services with the city.
“If I had to guess in 2018, if the economy stays strong, we’d probably be in the range of about 3,000 [permits],” Quint said.
Many of these homes will be built north of US 380, which is likely where the next school will be built, said Jason Bird, CFO at MISD.
“At some point you would assume we would need another school somewhere north of [US] 380 unless we want to do a large rezoning,” Bird said. “Our demographics don’t necessarily support a rezoning.”
The May 2016 bond package has money reserved for architecture and design of a new elementary school, but it does not include the funding to build the school, Bird said.
“We have purchased future school sites with anticipation of where they would need to be given the contingent plans, but when those are built will be determined at the speed at which that growth happens in those areas,” Rippee said.
A possible location for a new school could be in Trinity Falls as the development has saved four potential 12-acre sites for MISD schools. Three of the sites would be for an elementary school, but the fourth could be an elementary or middle school, said Jim Baker, general manager at Trinity Falls.
Baker said one site is available to the district now and another will be available in a few months.
“We consider schools to be an asset to the community, so we would like them as soon as possible but it’s really a decision for the school district and for the school district’s needs and [bond elections],” he said. “We facilitate it as much as possible at our end. … So we make the school sites available as we develop.”