Significant enrollment increase expected in Waxahachie ISD

Chris Roark
Waxahachie Daily Light

The fall demographic report presented to the Waxahachie ISD Board of Trustees on Monday was robust and full of housing data and enrollment projections.

Superintendent Jerry Hollingsworth’s assessment of the report was quite simple.

Jerry Hollingsworth

“We’re growing,” Hollingsworth said. “We will grow a lot, and we will be growing for quite some time.”

According to the demographic report, presented by Trent Smith of Zonda Education, Waxahachie ISD’s student enrollment is projected to grow from 10,098 in the 2021-22 school year to 11,051 in 2022-23, a 9.4-percent jump.

By 2031-32, it’s projected to increase to 17,827, a 76-percent surge.

WISD added 198 students in 2020-21 and added 419 in 2021-22.

“Still not really what we anticipated you guys to hit,” Smith said, “but a lot of that had to do with the delta variant that hit right before school started. That really put a hammer on enrollment across the state.”

Smith said the largest one-year jump is expected to happen next year, with 953 students.

“That’s going to be from the COVID return,” Smith said, “but also from the boom of single-family housing that you’re seeing. So those two things combined are really accelerating your enrollment forecast for next year.”

Housing

Smith said the housing market is strong across North Texas, and it looks to remain that way for a while.

Smith said demographers can gauge future housing based on several factors, such as annual closings.

According to the report, within Waxahachie ISD there were 837 home closings in the first three quarters of last year, which is among the lowest of North Texas school districts. However, there were 1,208 home starts.

“That’s a pretty good indicator of what your annual closings will be this time next year,” Smith said. “So going from that 837 … to 1,208 homes inside the district is a significant jump we’re about to see in the market.”

Among the WISD elementary school zones that had the most closings through the first three quarters of last year was Simpson Elementary with 345. The North Grove subdivision was the biggest driver with 231. The Clift Elementary zone was another hot spot with 166 annual closings, 118 coming from Buffalo Ridge.

Demographers also use vacant land distribution to forecast housing activity in the next 12-18 months. Clift is expected to have the most vacant developed lots, with 390 in Buffalo Ridge (201 lots) and a small portion of Saddlebrook Estates (89 lots) accounting for the majority of that. Simpson has 180 vacant lots, with 177 coming from North Grove and Arbor at Willow Grove.

Future lots help forecast what could be built on lots not yet established.

“These are the areas that are going to pop in the next three to 10 years,” Smith said.

The Wedgeworth Elementary zone is expected to be huge for future lots, with approximately 8,311. The bulk of that will come from Emory Lakes (5,769 lots) and Lonesome Dove (1,153 lots).

The Clift zone is expected to bring in 7,436 lots, with projects such as Saddlebrook Estates (3,955 lots) and the proposed Haven Ranch development (2,640 lots).

The Shackleford Elementary zone could see 2,114 homes come in from the proposed Renaissance development.

Smith said the district has 37 subdivisions being built now and 24 future subdivisions. Among those, 12 subdivisions (1,273 lots) are nearing the development phase.

He said there are also 378 multifamily units under construction, with more than 1,200 future multifamily units in various planning stages.

Smith said there are approximately 800 new residential units within WISD in 2021-22, but that number is expected to jump to approximately 1,400 new units next year and remain at that level for the next three to five years.

Capacity

That growth will lead to capacity issues at various campuses. Smith said as early as next year, six campuses – Felty, Clift, Northside, Simpson and Wedgeworth elementary schools and Waxahachie High School – will be over functional capacity.

More concerning are the two campuses that are projected to be over maximum capacity in 2023-24 – Waxahachie High School and Clift. In 2024-25 Felty, Clift, Simpson and Wedgeworth and WHS are expected to be over maximum capacity.

Hollingsworth said the district’s Long Range Planning Committee (LRPC) will convene in February to begin discussing ways to address the growth.

“The Long Range Planning Committee will help us determine a 10-year plan,” Hollingsworth said. “That will help us deal with the growth, manage the growth and thrive with that growth.”

New home activity

Zone Annual closings  Under const.       Vacant lots          Future lots

Clift   166   395   390   7,436

Dunaway   88      28      27      420

Felty 98      27      19      246

Marvin        6        6        4        20

Northside  50      35      2        77

Shackelford         38      8        22      2,760

Simpson     345   160   180   1,466

Wedgeworth      46      51      59      8,311

Total 837   710   703   20,736

Enrollment forecast

Year Total         Growth    Growth %

2021-22   10,098      419  4.3

2022-23   11,051      953  9.4

2023-24   11,754      703  6.4

2024-25   12,444      690  5.9

2025-26   13,061      617  5.0

2026-27   13,685      624  4.8

2027-28   14,427      743  5.4

2028-29   15,237      810  5.6

2029-30   16,113      875  5.7

2030-31   16,963      850  5.3

2031-32   17,832      869  5.1