CCISD board of trustees discuss enrollment numbers and facilities
By Brittany Fholer
Rick Kirkpatrick and Superintendent Dr. Joe Burns led a discussion on the district’s enrollment numbers, facilities and infrastructure needs during a workshop Friday evening.
The district has had a decrease compared to previous years, with total enrollment coming in 7,970 as of Friday. One of the biggest drops has been at the Pre-K level, which switched from half-day Pre-K 3 and Pre-K 4 to whole day Pre-K 4 this school year. In the state of Texas, prae-K is not mandatory.
CCISD’s Pre-K campus, Mae Stevens Early Learning Academy had a projected enrollment of about 440 but currently has just 273 enrolled, Kirkpatrick said.
Kirkpatrick said he would guess that most parents of these students would not choose virtual learning and instead just chose not to enroll this year.
“I just think that we have parents who have out of concern for safety for the little ones that they’re keeping them home,” Burns said.
Other campus enrollments that stood out to Kirkpatrick included Hettie Halstead Elementary and House Creek Elementary which are both over projection, although not yet at capacity.
The significant growth on the north side of town, in neighborhoods like Creekside Hills, is a major contributing factor, according to Kirkpatrick. He added that the neighborhoods are growing faster than the district and even the developer expected.
Students in the House Creek North subdivision are zoned for House Creek Elementary, but students in Creekside Hills are now being zoned to attend Halstead Elementary.
On the other side of town, Martin Walker Elementary is also already at its projected enrollment number due to development along S. F.M. 116. Kirkpatrick added that he had expected the enrollment numbers at Clements/Parsons Elementary and Fairview-Jewell Elementary to be higher.
Enrollment at secondary campuses, like the junior highs and high school, are as expected. These campuses tend to hit their peak enrollment after Labor Day due to new students transferring in.
The on-campus numbers will also likely change once the 1st six weeks grading period ends September 25th and parents can switch their student’s learning option of either at-home learning or on-campus learning.
The district had a 10-year forecast by campus level completed using a third party, projecting the future enrollment numbers and capacity.
The board discussed each campus’ functional capacity, which differs from the maximum capacity. While the maximum capacity is calculated as kids in every classroom, functional capacity refers to the usable classrooms, not taken by Special Education, interventionists, music or art, etc.
For House Creek Elementary, the functional capacity is no more than 800 students, Kirkpatrick said. This campus has hit that number in previous years but is currently under. For Halstead, the functional capacity is about 420.
Kirkpatrick called the junior high schools pressure points for growth. The projected peak enrollment for S.C. Lee Junior High had been 915, but this year, the current enrollment is 927. Kirkpatrick attributed this to the immense growth on that side of town. This number is even after the district rezoned some students over the Copperas Cove Junior High last year.
At the high school, Kirkpatrick said the district could fit in 2,400 students at absolute capacity, but it would be “wall to wall kids.”
According to the 10-year forecast, CCJHS will exceed capacity by this year and S.C. Lee will exceed capacity by 2022, although Kirkpatrick said he expects that to happen sooner.
The high school is also expected to exceed capacity by 2022.
Kirkpatrick said he predicted CCHS would have 2,273 total enrolled, but there are currently 2,212 students enrolled.
To meet the needs from the continued growth, the district would need more facilities or larger facilities. Most of the district’s facilities are in the central part of town, while the growth is on the outer edges.
Friday’s discussion covered possible ideas on how to maximize the district’s available space before having to turn to building completely new campuses.
Board member Jeff Gorres asked about reverting back to having a campus for 5th grade only, similar to the model the district had more than 10 years ago, with C.R. Clements Intermediate School and Lovett Ledger Intermediate School, which each housed 5th and 6th graders, while the neighboring elementary schools housed pre-K through 4th grade. With Mae Stevens Early Learning Academy, the elementary campuses could become K-4 campuses.
Burns said that currently, the district does have the capacity to go back to this intermediate school model, but there would still be pressure at the high school.
Burns walked the board members through different ideas of how the various campuses could be expanded to accommodate increased capacity numbers. At a school like Martin Walker Elementary, just the simple addition of a new cafeteria would free up classroom space in the old cafeteria space.
Burns said he felt Martin Walker, Mae Stevens Elementary, Hettie Halstead each needed a new cafeteria, as well as an additional gym, and that House Creek Elementary would need just an additional gym before any other expansion could take place. Satellite pictures of each campus showed the space available for additional wings.
At the high school, Burns said he would want to focus on the drainage system and then creating space for the CTE programs.
Burns said the high school would have to reach a capacity of 3,000 to 3,500 before the district would be able to think of adding another high school. He added that the district’s projection for 10 years out still doesn’t show the school reaching this number in capacity.
To build a new high school would start at $135 million, according to Burns.
“That’s one thing that everybody in the community can get behind is a brand-new high school,” Burns said. “I can, but if it’s going to cost me every penny on my tax rate and there’s not going to be any money to do anything else, then you know what, I’m probably not there.”