New school every year for HCISD

By Megan Wehring 

BUDA — Hays CISD is currently sitting at 21,730 students, the highest enrollment in the district’s history, which is an increase of 1,254 students compared to last year. 

The growth in the county and across the district’s 221 square-mile radius, Superintendent Dr. Eric Wright and Chief Operations Officer Max Cleaver presented to the Buda City Council on March 22 with the district’s plans to accommodate continuous student enrollment figures. 

“The demographer just updated our report,” Wright said, “and we had 3,300 starts for homes in our school district boundaries and we were able to close around 2,300. They said that it will pick up as soon as the supply chain and labor issue[s]change. He told us that we are going to be on pace with Leander and for us to look at 3,000 annual starts and 3,000 annual closings each year. With that comes the great challenge of growth and staying ahead of the curve. In essence, it’s an elementary school per year for the next several years.”

Hays CISD is the number one district in the state and nation with the most vacant developed lots to build on at 60,000, according to Wright.

“We are not supposed to build out until the year 2067,” Wright said. “At that time, I will be 100 years old and so I don’t imagine I’ll be in this position.” 

What to know about the 2022 bond 

Totaling at $115,649,800, voters can expect to see a bond package on the May 7 election that is focused on accommodating student growth. 

• Construction of Elementary #16, geared to take pressure off of Negley Elementary School, is estimated to cost $48,270,043

• Design fees for Elementary #17 is estimated at $3,475,567, which will fund the pre-construction planning “so that the project is shovel ready should voters approve its construction in a future bond initiative.”

• The Academic Support Center would move administration personnel to one location, freeing the space at Live Oak Academy to allow for expansion. This will cost $57,130,690.

• The Live Oak Academy expansion project funds were approved last May with the intent to convert the district’s current Curriculum and Instruction (C&I) Department office areas on the campus into classroom space. To proceed with this project, the district intends to move the C&I Department to the proposed Academic Support Center. 

• For the district to purchase 55 new school buses, it would cost $6,773,500. Twenty buses would be purchased to expand the size of the current fleet and the remaining 35 would replace aging school buses.

There is no tax rate increase anticipated with the bond. According to the district, the Board of Trustees committed that any unspent funds from this bond, after all projects within it are completed, would be used to pay down existing debt – effectively returning the money to taxpayers. Through this same pledge regarding the May 2017 bond, the Board will be able to use $5 million in remaining funds to pay down existing debt.

“There is no tax rate increase associated with this bond because of the extraordinary growth that we’ve seen residentially and commercially,” Wright said. 

Election Day is Saturday, May 7 and the early voting period begins on Monday, April 25.

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About Author

Megan Navarro (Wehring) graduated from Texas State University in May 2020 with a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communication. In June 2020, she started a summer internship at the Hays Free Press/News-Dispatch through the Dow Jones News Fund and Texas Press Association. She then earned her way to a reporter position later that summer and now, she serves as the editor of the newspaper. Working for a small publication, Navarro wears multiple hats. She has various responsibilities including managing a team of reporters, making editorial decisions, overseeing social media posts, fact checking, writing her own articles and more. Navarro has a heart for storytelling and she believes that journalists are equipped to share the stories that are important to the community.

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