Lake Travis ISD opens new school as enrollment grows at districts outside Austin

Education

TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Lake Travis ISD’s newest middle school opens Wednesday as the district welcomes about 11,000 students back to class.

District officials say a new campus was needed because they’ve seen 4% to 6% enrollment growth each of the last several years and they expect that same rate of growth in the coming years.

“Since I’ve been here the last 12, 13 years, enrollment has doubled,” said Marco Alvarado, communications director for LTISD. “When I got here it was about 5,800 or so students.”

Bee Cave Middle School will relieve capacity at Lake Travis Middle School, which last year had 1,600 students.

The district’s growth mirrors many others around the Central Texas area as families move outside of Austin ISD, which has lost thousands of students since 2014 and expects to lose several thousand more in the next five years.

During the 2014-15 school year, AISD enrolled more than 84,000 students; this year the district is projected to have about 76,000 kids, and by 2023-24, the research firm Templeton Demographics estimates it will enroll about 72,000.

As it’s shrunk, the districts surrounding Austin are growing to absorb some of the families moving out of an increasingly expensive city.

Round Rock ISD added 3,472 students since 2015, a district spokesperson said, and predicts it will add another 2,000 students by 2023-24 for a total enrollment of 53,369. A new elementary school will open there in 2021, but the district says some other schools are still over-capacity.

Pflugerville and Manor ISDs are growing to the north, too. Pflugerville’s estimates are for 2,000 new students by 2023-24 after adding 2,000 in the last five years. Manor is asking voters to approve $280 million in bond money this fall to build two new schools to accommodate the 2,780 students it expects to add over the next four years.

Leander ISD adds about 1,000 kids every year and is also opening a new elementary school this year. Hays CISD added a new high school this school year after growing by 2,000 students since 2014. It expects 2,000 more by 2023, for a total student population of 22,194.

Lake Travis ISD’s Bee Cave Middle School, meanwhile is starting with 50 kids more than the district expected when it built the school.

“We’re a very fast-growth school, so it changes hourly,” Amanda Prehn, the school’s principal, said.

At a starting student body of about 900 students, there’s still room to grow before it hits its 1,200-student capacity.

Prehn’s husband graduated from Lake Travis High School, and they’ve noticed big changes along S.H. 71 in the 15 years they’ve lived there. “A lot of transplants [are] coming to us from out of state, from out of the city.”

Every day it seems like there are new houses, new developments popping up nearby, she said. As the county finds more space to build, the district will have to keep finding space to put new families.

“It’s pretty incredible to see that melding of folks,” Prehn said.

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