The Mansfield school district is prepared to start construction on three new schools, which means it’s time to redraw attendance boundaries for all grade levels.
The new schools and attendance maps are necessary to address overcrowding now and in the future.
Lake Ridge High School could have 2,900 students this fall, putting the six-year-old campus 400 students over capacity.
Overcrowding at Mary Lillard Intermediate School forced the district to bus some students to Della Icenhower Intermediate School.
Danny Jones Middle School will be over capacity by 2020 if nothing is done to relieve the school.
With thousands of new homes planned in the southern half of Mansfield ISD, enrollment at Annette Perry Elementary School is projected to go from about 300 students to more than 800 over the next four years.
Mansfield ISD voters passed a $275 million bond package in May to address these issues, providing funding for Brenda Norwood Elementary School, Alma Martinez Intermediate School and Charlene McKinzey Middle School. The schools will open in the fall of 2020 in the booming South Pointe development.
Now comes the daunting task of determining which students will attend these new schools. At the same time, the district must address overcrowding at Lake Ridge High School without a new high school coming to the rescue. That means high school attendance zones will need to be shifted, a controversial and messy process that brings out passion and pride for the schools.
Fast-growing Mansfield ISD is no stranger to redrawing attendance zones but this will be the first time that the district has changed the boundaries for all the grade levels at once, said David Wright, assistant superintendent of student service and support.
“We want to move the fewest number of kids the fewest number of times and create stability over time,” Wright said.
The process kicked off Feb. 8 with the Attendance Zone Committee’s first meeting at the Mansfield ISD administration office. The majority of the group — 30 — were selected at random from each of the high school zones. The other seven were appointed by school board members. More than 300 parents signed up for the committee.
At the initial meeting, Templeton Demographics went over projections for new homes and apartments, particularly in the southern half of the district and what that means for enrollment in those schools.
New proposed maps with redrawn attendance zones will be presented to the committee’s next meeting, set for 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 15 in the Great Room at the administration building, 605 E. Broad St. The proposed maps were drawn by the demographer and then reviewed by city staff. The public is invited to the committee meeting to see the maps but no public input will be permitted.
The public can speak at community meetings at the performing arts center at Lake Ridge High School on Feb. 22 or at Legacy High School March 26.
On April 24, the committee will make recommendations to the school board trustees, who have the final say on the maps.
Bob Templeton with Templeton Demographics said the firm studies the housing market, the job market, home starts, deed transfers and birth rates to provide accurate data to school districts.
The Perry Elementary zone alone has more than 5,000 lots that could be built in the future.
“That’s the highest concentration of growth in the district,” he said.
Just across South Main Street from Perry Elementary is the site where the district plans to build its next high school.
There’s no timeline for the sixth high school but Hope Boyd, communications coordinator for the district, said initial conversations could begin next year.
The biggest driver for the new enrollment right now is South Pointe, a mixed-use project located between U.S. 287 and Texas 360.
The master planned community will ultimately have 1,500 single family homes and more than 400 apartments, said David Branch, director of land development with North Rock Real Estate, the company developing South Pointe. The apartments, called The Julian, will actually be in the Midlothian school district. The majority of the homes are in the Mansfield school district.
So far, there are about 120 homes occupied in South Pointe with new inventory being added each month, Branch said.
As phase 1A finishes, three more phases are beginning with more than 300 lots. They will be ready for home builders by September, he said. The finished project will have two gated neighborhoods with homes selling for $800,000 to $1 million, Branch said.
The project is so large it actually includes plans for a second elementary school that could be part of a future bond package.
South Pointe is planning two retail centers, a 53-acre site at the intersection of Lone Star Road and U.S. 287 and 32 acres at Matlock Road and Texas 360. The opening of the Texas 360 toll road this spring will drive more interest in retail for the eastern site.
“That makes it very desirable,” Branch said. “There’s already inquiries into that property now.”
Plans for the 61 acres at the southern tip of South Pointe are still up in the air. The prime real estate at the junction of Texas 360 and U.S. 287 was once billed for a destination shopping center.
“We just don’t know exactly what it will be at this point,” Branch said.