For the first time in its history, Hays CISD’s student population is now more than 20,000 strong.
That milestone was reached earlier this month; Hays CISD is now responsible for 20,073 students with more on the way.
While one of the fastest growing districts in Texas is prepared for the influx of students, officials are still feeling growing pains in some respects.
HCISD Chief Communication Officer Tim Savoy said the district has plenty of room for the students with the addition of Johnson High and new staff members. The only exception is managing overcrowded middle schools in the district.
“We may have to bring in portables for one of the middle schools,” Savoy said. “Each middle school is at about 900 students, but with the growth, our middle schools are a little bigger right now.”
To supplement this growth, the district plans to look at its bonding capacity and whether they can afford to either expand the currently existing middle schools or construct a new campus. Officials said it could be important to expand elementary schools in the future.
“We likely won’t need to worry about the high school population for another eight to 10 years with the recent rezoning and the new school,” Savoy said,
Superintendent Eric Wright welcomes the district’s growth. Wright said his concern extends to possible legislative actions that may inhibit the district’s ability to build and spend money on growth.
In December, Wright and school board members requested the Texas Legislature consider fast growing schools as an exception when it comes to a proposed change that would cap districts’ taxing abilities.
According to The Texas Tribune, Gov. Greg Abbott is seeking to pass a bill that would provide tax payers $992 million in relief in 2020. Should this be approved, Wright said, the district’s ability to afford its own growth would be hindered.
“We’re hoping they come up with a caveat for fast growth schools,” Wright said. “Additional revenue would need to make up for what we would lose. Unless you’re able to grow, you can’t increase the capacity for bonds. It’s problematic without a caveat.”
Wright was referring to a bill in the Texas Legislature that proposes a limit on the property tax increases, saying such a proposal would severely limit high-growth districts.
The future of the bill is unknown until decisions are made during the legislative session, but district officials noted their concern in their short list of legislative priorities.
In the meantime, Savoy said the district will begin the process over again with demographers to estimate the district’s growth in the coming decade.