Fort Bend ISD officials plan for growth within the next decade

Representatives from demographic firm Population and Survey Analysts projected student enrollment to significantly increase in the next decade, particularly at Leonetti Elementary School, Ridge Point High School and Thornton Middle School, which has yet to open.

Based on three different scenarios of low growth rate, moderate growth rate or high growth rate, PASA projects school enrollment may reach as much as 88,945 students within ten years, PASA President Stacey Tepera said.

“Over the ten-year projection period, we anticipate that the enrollment in FBISD could range from almost 82,000 to anywhere up to almost 89,000 students by the year 2027,” she said.

Tepera recommended the school district to plan for moderate growth, which places student enrollment somewhere in the middle with 85,700 students enrolled in 2027. Current student enrollment is 75,641, according to an enrollment report published Feb. 12.

FBISD has grown over 6.4 percent in the past five years, said Justin Silhavy, PASA demographics projections director. PASA anticipates the largest growth in single-family housing developments in communities such as Sienna Plantation, Aliana, Harvest Green and Riverstone—each with 1,100-5,100 new housing units to be added in the next ten years.

The average student per household ratio for single-family homes and multi-family homes are 0.55 and 0.40, respectively, according to the demographics report.

“We are kind of in the midst of a housing boom here in Fort Bend,” Silhavy said. “[FBISD] is in the peak of what I would say is going to be the most growth you have in a long time—I’d say 20 years—and it’s going to peak very soon.”

FBISD staff reported several schools such as Madden and Commonwealth elementary schools are over utilized with high student enrollment, whereas many others are under utilized with much lower student populations.

A school is considered over-utilized when population is at 120 percent of the building’s capacity or more and underutilized at 80 percent capacity or less, said Beth Martinez, chief of staff and strategic planning.

To alleviate the issue of high growth rates, the district has stopped allowing student transfers to Madden and placed four portable buildings at the school, which will remain for the next school year, Martinez said.

“This year we capped enrollment, and that cap of enrollment will continue in the 2018-19 school year with students who are new to Madden Elementary in first through fifth grade being overflowed into Oyster Creek Elementary,” she said. “Kindergarten students will continue to enroll at Madden because we want to maintain that kindergarten cohort moving forward.”

The enrollment cap will be implemented until Elementary School 51 opens, which is slated for fall 2019, Martinez said.

Commonweath Elementary school is also over utilized with student enrollment at 126 percent of the building’s capacity, she said. The school will limit student transfers there and employ portable buildings to manage student population.

The district will continue to monitor current and projected enrollment numbers and meet with the facilities steering committee to discuss FBISD needs, Martinez said.
By Renee Yan
Renee Yan graduated May 2017 from the University of Texas in Arlington with a degree in journalism, joining Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in July.


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