At the risk of stating the obvious, Parker County is growing.
How that growth affects Weatherford ISD, however, was specifically updated at Thursday’s monthly meeting of the Board of Trustees.
Trent Smith with Templeton Demographics LLC presented the spring 2016 study that included a 10-year enrollment forecast which used housing and population trends, attendance zone information and historical data for the board’s review.
Smith said the Dallas/Fort Worth area was doing "extremely well," as was Texas overall, with the creation of new jobs, new homes and low unemployment rates.
When it came to enrollment trends, Smith said, statewide, it was about 80,000 per year but that last year, it was down some to 67,522. He noted that most of the decline was seen in kindergarten and that it was believed most of that was due to the weakened economy five to six years before and the fact that families were holding off having children until things improved.
Smith then highlighted all of the housing developments with the WISD attendance zones and discussed the amount of students that came from each. Using data about vacant lots, future lots and permits issued from the City of Weatherford, Westover Village in Curtis Elementary had the most new home permits issued in 2015, accounting for more than a quarter of all permits issued in the district.
Additionally, Crockett Elementary has the highest student yield in the district.
As for what WISD can expect in the coming years, Smith said it can expect an increase of approximately 400 students during the next five years and that the 2020-21 enrollment projection is 8,270 students. WISD is projected to have more than 8,700 students by 2025.
Board member Brian Catlin asked if Smith knew exactly where the growth was coming from and if the Walsh Ranch development had any impact on WISD. Smith said much of the movement was coming from east of Fort Worth and even Fort Worth and that Walsh Ranch has a significant impact on Weatherford on those looking for a more budget-friendly price point for a home.
At the start of the meeting, the board realigned itself as it does after each election of trustees. Ashley Conlon will remain president, Tiffany Branson will become vice president and Jeff Geyer will take over as secretary.
Jerry Blizzard, WISD Executive Director of Facilities, then gave an update on all of the construction projects happening around the district. Now that school has ended, demolition has begun in several areas as planned; new lighting and duct work is being completed; foundation work at Hall Middle School is starting Tison Middle School also has made progress despite having some leftover water from the recent rains.
Blizzard said the track at Tison was behind schedule because of the rain but that he didn’t think it was anything that would impact students at the start of school. He said an updated construction schedule for the longer-term projects should be forthcoming.
Also at the meeting, Richard Scoggin, WISD Executive Director of Athletics, gave his department review highlighting the student and coaching athletic achievements over the past year. He also spoke about the coordination of efforts between middle and high school coaches and the continued improvements being made to unify all athletic programs at WISD.