New high school could reach capacity by 2022

By SHELLY WILKISON

 The new $61.6 million Liberty Hill High School and athletic complex, which will open to students this summer, may reach its capacity in nine years, according to school district demographic projections released this week.    

As construction crews and furniture installers prepare the new campus to welcome students and faculty in August, Superintendent Rob Hart said Monday that the school may reach its capacity of 1,600 students by 2022.

Hart told school trustees last month that school will start in August with a projected high school enrollment of 950 students. At the time of the bond election in 2010, the district projected the school would reach its capacity in 10 years. However, capacity may come one year earlier due to rapid population growth in the school district.

Bill Burden Elementary School, which was built in 2006, is projected to reach its capacity in 2014. Liberty Hill Junior High, which is moving into the old high school campus this summer, may reach capacity in 2022, Hart said.

A first quarter 2013 demographic study shows “a significant jump” in  housing starts in the school district. Typically, the first quarter is the slowest time of the year for new construction, however, the trend did not hold this year, Hart said.

The report, prepared for the school district by School District Strategies of Dallas, shows 42 starts compared to 14 at this time last year. During the same time period, there were 27 closings compared to 12 in the first quarter of 2012.

The report shows the number of annual starts increased 56 percent to 132 units compared to the same time period one year ago.

“People are doing a lot of school shopping, and they’re shopping online for homes,” Hart said. “All indications are that the (growth) trend will continue.”

The report identified Rancho Sienna as the highest producing subdivision with 34 closings from the second quarter of 2012 through the first quarter of 2013. The report shows 46 homes occupied there and 111 remaining lots. Rancho Sienna produced 57 annual starts, which is the most starts by a single subdivision since 2001, the report states.

Stonewall Ranch, which held the previous record for starts at 55 in the second quarter of 2007, reported 23 closings since the second quarter of 2012 with 925 lots remaining and 177 home occupied.

Third on the list of producing subdivisions was Cierra Vista, followed by Gabriel’s Overlook, Beltorre, Quarry Lake Estates, Cimarron Hills and Sundance Estates.

The report showed 11,584 total potential single-family residential lots are planned in the school district. Of those, 863 are fully developed vacant lots, 447 are approved future lots and 10,274 are preliminary lots planned (development not started).

During the past 12 months, there have been 163 resales in the school district — an increase of 44 percent over the same period last year.

Additional information included in the demographics report showed:

* 89 new homes have been occupied over the last 12 months, up 14 percent over one year ago.

* The median home price in LHISD increased to $269,846.

* 43 new lots were delivered at Cimarron Hills in first quarter of 2013.

* Wilshire Homes entering formerly dormant Santa Rita West.

Hart said researchers reported that 10 home builders are currently building in the school district “and their goal is to hit three a month (starts and sales). These are people who know what they’re doing. A lot of thought and money is going into this (growth). I feel good that it’s (the growth) not going to drop.”

Enrollment projections presented Monday show a total district enrollment of 2,993 when school opens this fall compared to 2,851 in fall 2012 — a 5 percent increase.

In fall 2014, enrollment is projected at 3,141 and the scale shows gains every year through 2022 when fall enrollment districtwide is predicted at 5,226. Hart said that is the year today’s new high school and the junior high will reach capacity. The new home closings forecast for 2022 is 406 compared to 108 predicted for 2013, according to the report.