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Demographic Report Provides Glimpse into District, Community Growth

Demographic Report Provides Glimpse into District, Community Growth
Posted on 11/09/2016

Spending my first two months in LISD visiting campuses, attending community events and meeting with staff, parents and business leaders has been invaluable in helping me to learn about our community. Likewise, we also had the opportunity at a recent Board of Trustees meeting to hear from our longtime demography partners, who gave a fascinating insight into how our community is growing and what our future could look like. This annual “deep-dive” into the student-growth patterns across our district, the planned and projected development of land, and the demographic makeup of families moving into LISD has become a critical tool in helping our district plan and better prepare for the future. Allow me to share a few highlights of our newest demographic report that I found to be most interesting.

The strong, growing economy in Austin continues to attract new residents, but the availability of housing, particularly affordable housing, and new developments has been pushing these transplants further and further into the suburbs. In LISD’s case, we have been fortunate to benefit not only from exemplary schools that attract families, but also parks, entertainment, shopping, amenities for seniors and growing infrastructure that encourage our residents to stay here through retirement and beyond. These features, along with the availability of affordable land to build on, has resulted in continued growth for our district, especially along the “horseshoe” covering the northern part of our boundary in Leander and the area’s neighboring Liberty Hill and Georgetown. In fact, our demographers anticipate that over the next 10 years, 62 percent of all our housing growth will take place in the city of Leander.

In recent years, LISD has grown by roughly 1,000 students every year, which is enough students to fill an entire new elementary school. Interestingly though, due to the size and price of homes being built in our area and the availability of mortgages, most of these families are not young, first-time homebuyers with small children. So, despite continued growth, our number of kindergarteners has not increased in six out of the past seven years; in fact, more than half of our elementary schools have a larger fifth grade population than kindergarten.

The “aging” of our student population also has to do with the lack of regeneration in built-out subdivisions. Regeneration refers to the trend where, once a neighborhood has been established for 35 years or so, its residents will begin to sell to new buyers, regenerating new students into our school system. As I mentioned, our residents tend to like it here, so many of them have moved here, raised their families and retired in the same home.

While LISD has seen explosive growth in the past decade or so, the availability of good, easy-to-develop land, and large, 5-plus acre commercial lots are dwindling. At this point, between the existing and planned developments, as well as a considerable portion of our district (34 percent) that is claimed by parks, preserves, conservation and water and thus undevelopable, the land within LISD is roughly 79 percent built out. This means we are continuing to grow, but we are doing so at a more manageable rate and in a more concentrated area, at the northern portion of our district.

In the coming weeks, I will discuss further the challenges and opportunities that come with accommodating our 1,000 new students per year and providing them with the exemplary education for which LISD has become known, as well as balancing our existing student base and infrastructure. I am extremely grateful to belong to such a sought-after community—one where residents love, take pride in and invest in their communities. I look forward to working with you to steer our growth in the right direction, as LISD continues to lead students to bright future.

To view the full 2016 demographic report, please visit our website at www.leanderisd.org under the “About Us” section.