Growth of the public school student population in Friendswood will particularly impact the schools at its southern section, a new study commissioned by FISD, which presented a list of options that ranged from opening a new elementary to adding grades and rezoning existing campuses.
No decisions were made regarding the report or the various options presented in the informational session, which reported on demographic and employment trends, population projections and student enrollment. In addition, the study presented various options for making the best use of its facilities over the next decade.
FISD in February contracted with the College Station-based firm, Population Survey Analysts, which works with about 30 school districts per year, for a study to help with attendance zone planning and growth. The last demographic study by the same company was conducted in September 2004.
The student population in Friendswood public schools is predicted to grow to just over 7,400 students by 2023. FISD enrollment for 2014 was 6,171.
Areas within Friendswood’s 16-square-mile school district zone are 74 percent built out, but “regeneration” of existing homes – or older homeowners selling to younger families – may add to population growth in FISD, the study said. Not surprisingly, though, actively building subdivisions accounted for 81 percent of student growth.
Apartments have accounted for 2 percent of student growth since 2012.
Growing subdivisions that have added the most students since 2012 are The Lakes at San Joaquin Estates, West Ranch Lakeside Section I, Imperial Estates and three sections of West Ranch.
The southern section of the district is expected to experience the largest amount of growth, and the immediate and most pressing issue facing capacity utilization, the study said, is overcrowding at Cline. Several scenarios were presented in the study for dealing with student growth. Maps showing where student population is projected to live relative to each campus were presented, and some of the options involved splitting Cline and Windsong into separate catchment areas because they would serve students in the same grades.
One option involved opening a new elementary school in the West Ranch development, where much of the growth is projected. While this option maintains attendance zones and the “neighborhood schools” philosophy, the soonest possible opening date for a new campus is not before 2016, the report points out.
Other options included rezoning students from overcrowded schools to under-utilized ones, though doing so may create illogical travel patterns, and creating an early learning center at Westwood and Bales that would service students from the entire district. Another option is to create a fifth-grade center at Bales.