By Moses Leos III
Concerns are rising over a potential location for Hays CISD’s proposed third high school after one proposed property wasn’t within Hays County borders.
The property, located within the Sunfield Municipal Utility District (MUD), falls in Travis County, according to Hays CISD public information officer Tim Savoy. If the site is chosen for the third high school, it would be the first Hays CISD school to be located outside of Hays County.
But Emergency Service District No. 8 Chief Clay Huckaby said his district won’t be able to respond in case of emergencies, despite the fact that an ESD 8 station is less than five minutes away.
“We would have fire and EMS units that would be four minutes away,” Huckaby said. “But the school would be in Travis County. We don’t have authority to run in Travis County.”
According to Huckaby, the district’s property falls within Austin’s extraterritorial jurisdiction. For emergency services, Huckaby said Austin Travis County EMS and Travis County ESD No. 11 would provide EMS and fire service.
None of the Buda ESDs could respond as Buda wouldn’t have ability to annex the Sunfield MUD for another decade.
Savoy said the district, which purchased the property in 2013, knew the property was within Travis County.
The property was one of four sites the district presented to its site selection committee. The committee in January chose two northern locations near Buda for the third high school.
The second potential site is located on the west side of Interstate 35 near Carpenter Hill Elementary School.
Savoy said the district’s site committee was made aware of the site’s location. He said the committee’s last discussion had them “leaning toward” the northeast site, but that they weren’t “ready to announce” any decisions.
“We don’t want to tell people that just yet,” Savoy said. “We want to have information. We want people to still come out and voice their opinion regarding the direction the committee was leaning.
But, according to Savoy, the district’s site selection committee didn’t believe distance from emergency services posed enough of an issue to eliminate the site.
Per district documents, an ESD 11 substation is located in Elroy near Circuit of the Americas, which would be 11 minutes away from the proposed northeast site. The nearest Austin/Travis County EMS substation is on Ralph Alblanedo Drive in Austin.
In addition, the district will have to contract Travis County Sheriff’s Deputies to work as school resource officers (SROs) if the northeast site is selected.
Savoy said distance to emergency services was one of many specific criteria the site selection committee will look at. Transportation infrastructure, school attendance boundaries and environmnetal impact are also factors the committee takes into account.
“The emergency response times is one factor, but because it involves the safety of students and staff members, it will most certainly be among the top considerations when the group makes its final recommendation,” Savoy said in an emailed response.
He added the district would talk with ESDs regarding formal response plans after the site has been selected.
No decision has been formally made, according to Savoy. The site selection committee plans to submit its recommendation to the board of trustees in March.
“Having this discussion is good. Now is the time to have it,” Savoy said. “It’s the time to vet all of these issues and concerns that community can collectively decided on the best location, and it’s a community choice.”