In 10 years, Conroe ISD may see upward of 100,000 students enrolled in its schools, according to a 2022 demographic study presented to the district in December.

To accommodate the projected growth, the district is forming a bond planning committee early this year in anticipation of a bond appearing on the ballot in November.

CISD’s last bond was approved by voters in November 2019 for $677.37 million and included $315.8 million for new campuses and additions.

District officials said at a Dec. 6 meeting that needs over the next decade will include two new high schools as well as 19 other schools throughout the district.

Within The Woodlands-area feeder zones, five new schools will be needed by 2032-33, officials said.

CISD Superintendent Curtis Null said in an interview with Community Impact that the district’s growth is a good challenge to have.

“It says positive things about our community [and] about our school district that families are moving here, and they want to raise their families in Montgomery County—in Conroe ISD,” he said. “For us as a staff and community, we have to find ways now to meet these challenges.”

Demographic study results

Conducted by demographics firm Population and Survey Analysts, the demographic study presented to the board of trustees at a Dec. 6 meeting showed three growth scenarios: low-, moderate- and high-growth projections.

Historically, CISD has recorded enrollment higher than even the highest projections provided in previous studies with the exception of the 2020-21 school year early in the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the district.

PASA’s highest enrollment projection said in the 2032-33 school year, the district could have an enrollment of over 120,000 students, up from 73,195 in the current school year.

PASA President Stacey Tapera said at the meeting that PASA aims to remain conservative in the projections it presents.

"It is very important to us that we don’t make big promises or big projections that would cause you to overbuild,” Tapera said.

In The Woodlands area, the Grand Oaks High School and Oak Ridge High School feeder zones are projected to see the most growth, adding 1,365 and 784 high school students by October 2032, respectively, according to the study. Without any high school additions or boundary rezoning, the increase would put Grand Oaks at over 155% capacity of its 3,200-student limit by that time, according to the study.

Hot spots for growth come from single-family developments, particularly in the southern Montgomery County area.

By the 2032-33 school year, 47 of the district’s 59 campuses are estimated to be at or overcapacity without taking new campuses into consideration, according to the study. More than 54% of those schools overcapacity will be at more than 120% capacity, it states.

In addition to Bartlett Elementary School, Hines Elementary, Veterans Memorial Intermediate and the new Moorhead Junior High schools—the schools built or being built with 2019 bond funds—the study found the district will need to add 21 schools, including two kindergarten through sixth-grade schools, two elementary schools, one junior high and one ninth-grade campus in the southern Montgomery County area.

“There are many, many, many other factors that go into the decision and reality of building this many schools,” Tapera said. “We are just here to give you one bit, one piece of the puzzle.”

Current needs

As of the 2022-23 school year, the district is already at 102% capacity overall, according to the district.

The last of the four elementary schools from the 2019 bond, Bartlett Elementary—located in the Conroe/Caney Creek feeder zone—will open in August 2024, and one junior high school in the Caney Creek feeder is set to open in August 2023.

Despite those additions, as of November, three high schools, four junior high schools, five intermediate schools and 20 elementary schools are at capacity or overcapacity with eight schools throughout the district recording over 120% capacity, according to the study.

Null said when buildings reach 90% capacity, they can seem crowded to students, parents and teachers.

Buildings that are over capacity use portable classrooms. The building capacities for each school refer to the main building and do not include overflow in the portables. “Currently, there are around 200 portables in use throughout the district,” Null said.

At the board meeting, Null said the district could see at least 2,600 more students in the 2023-24 school year but will only be adding space for 1,600 new students.

“We’re going to go 1,000 in the hole next year. The following year, we’re going to add 1,000 seats but add 3,000 [students], so we’re going to go another 2,000 in,” he said. “We know we’re going to continue with the deficit piece. We just have to work with it.”

Forming a committee

To address the projected growth, the district is forming a bond committee that will begin meeting in February in anticipation of a bond being placed on the Nov. 7 ballot. CISD is aiming for a bond committee of 150-200 community members.

The committee is tentatively scheduled to meet 11 times before the Aug. 21 deadline for the board of trustees to call a bond.

“Our intention would be to work with the committee, starting in the spring,” Null said. “If we could have it wrapped up by May, that would give us some time in May and June to go out and have some town halls with the community and share the committee’s thoughts with the community and get feedback.”

Following those town halls, the committee will meet once more in July to finalize its recommendation before sending it to the board for a decision at an August board meeting.

The board will have the option to take the recommendation as is or amend it as it sees necessary.

The first committee meeting is scheduled for Feb. 2.

Editor's note: The map "Housing Growth" was updated to correct the position of Evergreen and Grand Central Park.