Needville ISD trustees are considering options after a demographic report presented at the June 19 board meeting included the necessity for a new junior high to relieve projected overcrowding in the near future.
Dr. Stacey Tepera and Justin Silhavy of Population and Surveying Analysts (PASA) presented the report and told trustees they can expect about 143 additional students districtwide each year for the next five years, with an enrollment of 5,431 in the next decade.
Projected enrollment for this fall is 3,326. Tepera said the most recent analysis PASA did for Needville ISD, in 2013, was pretty much on the mark; and she predicted this one will be as well. However, she said, annual growth rates can range from 1.96-7.31%.
If their numbers are correct, three of the district’s four campuses will be at or above capacity within five years. Last year’s addition to the middle school makes it the only campus that wouldn’t exceed capacity until a couple of years later.
The junior high is currently only slightly below capacity, making it the most pressing need to be addressed. In addition, said Tepera, the high school will need to be expanded in the next few years.
That campus was built to house 1,200 students and can easily be expanded to house 1,700.
“It is coming,” Tepera said of the impending growth, “and a decision will need to be made. Clearly the junior high overcrowding is driving the need to do something within the next few years.”
Tepera suggested three options for dealing with the coming growth, all of which include the need for construction of a new junior high. One option would move fourth grade from the middle school back to the elementary campus, converting the middle school to a second elementary campus and reconfiguring the current junior high to a fifth-and sixth-grade school.
The second option also suggests converting the middle school to a second elementary campus, with both housing grades pre-kindergarten through five. The new junior high would encompass grades six through eight, and the current junior high would serve as a facility of some other sort.
Option 3 would have the same grade configurations as Option 2, but would utilize the current junior high as a third elementary campus.
Silhavy said the district has grown by 17.5 percent since PASA’s most recent study in 2013, with a 1.1 percent increase from 2017 to 2018. He said the district’s median household income of $71,403 “is quite high” and its economically disadvantaged student population of 41.3 percent is low compared to the state average of 60.6 percent.
Silhavy also said Needville ISD test scores are in the Top 20 percent of the state, with a State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test passage rate of 81.2 percent compared to 73.1 percent statewide.
“When you see people moving here or transferring here, these are some of the reasons,” he said. “People are excited to move to this school district.”
Silhavy said two municipal utilities districts (MUDs) within Needville ISD’s 200-square-mile boundary were just approved by the state, and another is close to being approved. That, he said, translates to more houses and more students, as does the widening of U.S. 59/69 and the future extension of the Fort Bend Tollway and Grand Parkway.
While projected new housing occupancies are 2,175 in the next decade and more and more builders are looking in this area, Silhavy assured trustees his company is “genuinely conservative in our projections because we don’t want you guys to overbuild.”
The board thanked Silhavy and Tepera for their presentation and plans to study the report to make the appropriate decision. A step in that direction came when trustees approved a June 26 closing date for the purchase of nearly 201.9 acres of land at the intersection of Richmond Street and Baker Road.
The board previously approved the $3 million purchase at its March 20 meeting. Jonathan Pertuit of Claycomb Associates reviewed with trustees the ongoing conversion of the two-story section of the old high school to an administration building. He said the facility features a security vestibule, offices, meeting room and break room on the first floor and a board meeting room and lobby area on the second floor, with plenty of storage space throughout the facility.
Trustees approved a $368,400 Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) grant applied for by Transportation Director Rodney Wieghat for the purchase of five new school buses to replace the oldest of the district’s fleet.
Needville ISD will add about $111,000 to help pay for the buses.
Superintendent Curtis Rhodes reviewed with the board the annual scholarship report submitted by senior counselor Valerie Orsak. Of Needville High School’s 234 Class of 2019 graduating seniors, 95 earned scholarships totaling $1,322,248.