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Source : Wikimedia Commons
August 28, 2023
Author : Alex Bustillos
The Lone Star state is one of the fastest-growing states in the country, and counties like Montgomery County are rapidly expanding in terms of development and population size.
One example to illustrate this is Montgomery County's Sky Ranch community, which is expected to accommodate nearly 4,000 single-family homes. This 1.9-acre community is located west of Fish Creek Highway and North of FM 1488. The residents are anticipated to move into the area by late 2025.
With the upcoming population spurt, the county's school district is also preparing for the influx of new students. In the current academic year, there are approximately 10,000 students, but in the next decade, this is projected to reach 16,000 students at a 60% growth rate.
According to Justin Marino, the Montgomery ISD's staff chief of communications, more campuses may be required in the next four to five years to accommodate the growth in the area.
The county is opening new schools to accommodate this burgeoning student population. Creekside Elementary is expected to open for 2024-25 to prevent overcrowding at Keenan and Steward Creek elementary schools.
But just one school won't be sufficient; the Montgomery ISD said they will require an extra junior high by 2027 and an elementary school by 2028.
As a proactive step, the district included funds for the third junior high school land, planning, and design needs as a part of their $326 million bond package in 2022.
Previously, the district used to hold bond elections roughly every seven years, but district officials are currently introducing bond elections every two to three years.
According to Greg Smith, executive director of the Austin-based advocacy organization Fast Growth School Coalition, inflated costs have resulted in delays in construction and reluctance from voters as districts like Conroe propose bond packages with higher cost tags.
"The inflationary period has risen quite a bit, to the extent that more districts had to go up for not just million dollar bond projects, but billion dollar projects," said Smith. "Traditionally, you might see a Katy, Houston, Austin, Dallas (ISD) go out for billion dollar bond election. Now you're seeing….smaller districts going out for (billion dollar bond packages) because of growth and inflation."
Voters in Conroe ISD will likely determine whether or not to approve a $1.9 billion bond initiative that will create eight new schools and pay for significant renovations at five district campuses.
According to Smith, voters passed more than 80% of the bond proposals on the ballot in May, resulting in more than $22 million for educational initiatives in the Houston region.
For over a decade, Conroe ISD has increased by 1,500 students per year on average; however, for the academic year 2022-23, enrollment increased to 6,200 students and is expected to top 73,000 this year.
The county's smallest school district, Splendora ISD, has 5,000 students enrolled and is expected to reach 8,000 by 2026.
These numbers might seem monumental now, but this is only the tip of the iceberg. More and more community projects are coming up in the nearby areas. With the growing number of residential complexes, the pressure on school districts will only gather steam in the coming years.