Growth in Wylie ISD is coming quickly, and preparing for increased enrollment is a primary focus. What are the reasons for such incredible growth? From amazing STAAR scores to exemplary ratings, our schools are among the elite in Texas that are doing an amazing job of preparing kids for a prosperous life beyond high school. While we welcome the growth, change requires strategic planning. As we move forward with determining how we will prepare for the future, we want to update you on measures we are taking to ensure that we implement our ideas as seamlessly as possible.
When looking at state and local data, it doesn’t take long to see that Wylie ISD is leading the way for progress. These academic achievements have resulted in better grades, an increase in scholarships, and a dramatic 31% rise in the number of students enrolling in and attending a post-secondary college or trade school. The accomplishments of our students are astounding—I am so proud of them!
Most people compare the growth in Wylie ISD to districts like Frisco, Prosper, and Allen. These districts are referred to as “destination districts” because they have become the sought after places to raise families. The “destination district” designation has been one of the main factors in encouraging families to relocate to Wylie ISD. How popular are we? Wylie ISD is the 5th fastest growing district in DFW, and it is the only one of the five destination districts which is not positioned on a major interstate. That means that, for many families who want to enroll their children in our schools, they have to go out of their way to do so.
From another perspective, consider the growth of the other Collin County school districts with enrollments of more than five thousand students adjacent to Wylie ISD. We have grown more than all of those districts combined.
Growth is coming fast and furious. Our goal is to plan and prepare for new students. Thank you for the past two bond proposals that provided the classrooms needed to meet our growth. Our plan has been, and is, to develop a five year plan to address enrollment growth. Again, as we move forward, we are grateful to community members for supporting the needs of our students and our teachers.
Our goal for the next five-year plan will require a bit more preparation. Most empty land has already been claimed by new home construction. To determine a reasonable estimate of future development, we asked demographers to study where growth will occur, when it will occur, AND how much land is left for future construction. This map shows that only 20% of land in Wylie ISD remains available for residential development. Some undeveloped areas are in flood plain.
In the past, a big development like Woodbridge, Inspiration, or Maxwell Creek required a new elementary school to accommodate the number of students the 1000+ homes produced. Our new growth continues to escalate, but it is taking place in smaller developments which house 100-150 homes. Because of this, we are able to strategically accommodate families without building new schools. We find this plan to be better for our community and more cost efficient for our taxpayers.
Standards for Construction/Bond Planning
The board of trustees established guidelines to address student growth, based on the conservative and financially responsible standards our community values that include:
Providing responsible, practical and sustainable solutions
Limiting the forecast to the next five years
Maintaining public trust/confidence with fanatical transparency
Limiting zone changes and exhaust every practical rezoning consideration before construction options
Ensuring any future bond proposal does not result in a tax rate increase and minimizes debt for future generations
Ensuring all campuses are “functionally equitable” to each other
Frequently seek public input before decisions are finalized
Reporting on progress/delivery of promised items
In fact trustees have been preparing for a future bond proposal by restructuring debt to save nearly $30,000,000 in taxpayer money the past few years.
With these guidelines, Wylie ISD has completed the 2018 Master Facilities Plan. This plan addresses growth for the next five years based on the factors of land development mentioned above. The following suggestions are based on these principles, and we request your input regarding our proposal.
Accommodating High School Enrollment Growth
Most of the land has been developed on the west side of the district (that feeds WHS) and comprises less than 10% of new construction. A majority of the new growth is in the WEHS attendance zone. Addressing this growth, and keeping students in their feeder patterns, is a challenge that will take a different approach to accommodating growth than previous master facilities plans. With careful planning, we can accommodate current and future enrollment projections for both high school feeder patterns.
As you can see from this graphic, WHS enrollment has already exceeded campus enrollment capacity. Growth in the next five years in the WEHS attendance zone will bring the campus to the same enrollment as WHS and the elementary campuses, as well as intermediate/junior high campuses that feed that campus. Again, referring to the graphic, current demographic planning estimates forecast campus capacities of 2995 at WHS and 2997 at WEHS. Our master facilities plans enable us to meet a high school campus enrollment capacity of 3100 students. This applies to WEHS and WHS.
High School Additions & Renovations
These additions to WHS and WEHS are based on current demographic data and simply expand the number of classrooms and functional spaces to accommodate future students. Our focus is to create enough space for 3100 students. This is our composite list of classroom and space additions to both campuses combined, with maps for specific details.
Accommodating Intermediate and Junior High School Enrollment Growth
Even though we are estimating higher density subdivisions than once projected, with six classroom additions to McMillan Junior High and Davis Intermediate, we believe we can meet future projected enrollment estimates. For all junior high and intermediate campuses to have similar functionality and usefulness, this plan includes additions to band halls to ensure functional equity, a new cafeteria and classrooms for dual language students at Harrison, and parking for campuses to address concerns from the recently completed traffic study.
Addressing Elementary Enrollment Growth and Safety/Security Upgrades
Over the past three years, a great deal has been accomplished to update campus safety and security standards and meet growth accommodations including additions and updates to Hartman, Akin, Birmingham, and Tibbals Elementary. We propose the following additions and safety upgrades to elementary campuses:
These additions and renovations will provide necessary security updates and accommodate future enrollment estimates.
An additional elementary was considered to relieve growth at Bush and Watkins; however, it would require up to SIXTEEN subdivisions to be rezoned. Our current plan will require only two, very small, zoning changes. While we know there will still be students and families affected by this plan, the amount of individuals impacted will be much smaller. We look forward to providing detailed information regarding changes which may be made and answering any questions from stakeholders.
The estimated cost of the master facilities proposal is $212,417,701. While this is a great deal of money, it is drastically less than building new campuses. This master facilities plan is our most fiscally responsible option, saving millions of taxpayer construction and annual operation dollars. These decisions are important in guaranteeing the financial stability and strength of Wylie ISD while meeting the needs of a growing student population.
How do we compare to other fast growth school districts with more than 5,000 regarding financial responsibility and efficiency with this proposal? Wylie ISD is the lowest among comparable districts.
As mentioned, the promise trustees are making to taxpayers is that any bond proposal WILL NOT result in a tax rate increase and is structured to minimize debt for future generations. Based on extremely conservative estimates, we have set our own bond capacity limit at $193,700,000. This would require $18,717,701 in additional funding.
Thankfully, our conservative approach to annual budgeting has provided a fund balance we can use to address our needs. We can fund the remaining costs from fund balance and maintain all fiscal requirements suggested by auditors and financial consultants. In the long run, this will enable us to save millions of dollars and provide the district and its stakeholders with more financial security.
Your Input is Vital
Thank you for supporting previous bond proposals. They have provided necessary classroom space to accommodate our incredible student enrollment growth. Your feedback has been essential to affording our kids and community the best possible options. Without you, we would not be what we are today. We attribute our success to our community members and stakeholders who have come together to provide valuable opportunities for our students. We appreciate you and all you do!
We have spent more than a year preparing this Master Facilities Plan. This is the calendar we have followed, and plan to follow, in the coming months with the goal of a May 2019 bond election. Please look through it and let us know of any questions you have regarding this timeline or the master facilities plan. Your input MATTERS!
The schools belong to the people. As we move forward, our next steps are to listen and gain feedback from our Wylie ISD family and the taxpayers who support us. Your input is both welcome and vital in helping us to maintain our status as one of the elite academically achieving school districts in Texas based on fiscally responsible standards.
We value you and your support of Wylie ISD. We would like to express our sincere gratitude for the role you play in making our district great. Thank you for being part of these plans.