To accommodate increasing growth throughout the district, Pflugerville ISD plans to purchase a $5.96 million tract of land for the construction of three new schools, including a high school which could be open as early as 2015.
PISD could soon own 149 acres along Weiss Lane, situated near Lake Pflugerville. District trustees approved the purchase of the property during a closed session at the July 26 board meeting, PISD Chief Financial Officer Kenneth Adix said. Adix said the district plans to buy the land to address rising student enrollment and alleviate overcrowding in existing schools. The district expects student enrollment to increase from 23,000 in the current school year to an estimated 29,000 students in the next six years, prompting a push for more schools.
The area with the biggest expected growth within the district is situated east of Hwy. 130, Adix said. Sustained development and population growth in that region have already spawned the creation of six new schools in the district.
Since 2000, five new schools—Hendrickson High School, Kelly Lane Middle School and Murchison, Riojas and Rowe Lane elementary schools—were opened east of Hwy. 130 to help accommodate increased population and a rise in student enrollment. Another school, Cele Middle School, is set to open for the 2013-14 school year, making it the sixth new school to open in the region in the past 12 years.
“That's where the schools need to be,” Adix said, noting that enrollment for at least one of the new schools—Hendrickson—is expected to surpass its building capacity by 2014. Hendrickson has a maximum capacity of 2,650 students, without the addition of portables or off-site classroom facilities. Adix said this year the school will open with an estimated 2,400 students enrolled, a figure the district expects to increase in the coming years.
“(The new high school) is designed to take pressure off Hendrickson,” Adix said. “This would (also) give us land for future years to build another middle school (and) another elementary school.”
Adix said the district estimates the cost of construction for the new high school to be approximately $90 million—$200 per square foot in an estimated 450,000-square-foot facility. Funds for construction would come from future bonds, including one the district hopes to be voted on in May.
Adix said district officials selected the property on Weiss Lane because they wanted a site that was in the crucial growth area east of Hwy. 130, is relatively flat, not in a flood plain and had some infrastructure already in place. To pay for the $5.96 million land purchase, Adix said the district will tap into general funds with plans to replenish them through future bonds.
One issue Adix said needs to be addressed first is the condition of Weiss Lane. Adix said while the road in front of the proposed site of the new high school is not in good condition, county funding has been approved to make necessary improvements. In 2011, voters in Travis County approved two bonds for improvements on Weiss Lane—a $811,030 measure to rehabilitate Weiss Lane Bridge No. 229, and a $7,478,141 bond to widen lanes.
“That road isn't set right now to handle a high school right now,” he said. “It's a viable option, given (the county gets) the road done before we start opening up that school.”
With an expected two-year planning and construction process, the new high school could open as early as 2015, Adix said.