$253M bond vote looms as students return to packed Lake Travis schools

Students get off the bus on the first day of school at Lake Travis Middle School (Julie Karam/KXAN)
Students get off the bus on the first day of school at Lake Travis Middle School (Julie Karam/KXAN)

LAKE TRAVIS, Texas (KXAN) — Students in Taylor, Elgin, Hutto and Lake Travis head back to school Wednesday. In Lake Travis, students will be walking into one of Central Texas’ fastest growing school districts with many schools at or near capacity. Superintendent Brad Lancaster gave KXAN a tour of Lake Travis Middle School which opened in 2014 and is now completely full with 1,400 students.

Lancaster says in the past 10 years, Lake Travis ISD has grown by 76 percent or 4,200 additional students. The district is projecting within the next 10 years an additional 6,000 students will enroll, bringing the student population to more than 16,000.

“Our biggest growth is occurring in elementary, young families are moving here to the tune of 500 to 600 kids a year,” Lancaster says.

In November, voters will see a $253 million bond on the ballot. It would fund a third middle school, a seventh elementary school, new buses, upgrades to technology and renovations to current buildings. The bond advisory board spent months narrowing down $400 million worth of projects to $253 million.

“Our board’s goal was to call just enough projects so that we can do this, get the schools we need, and the other needed items but no change to the tax rate,” says Lancaster.

But with the growth, Lancaster predicts bond elections will become a familiar ballot item.

“We have to have a bond election every three, four, or five years just to keep up with the growth. We can’t put 2,000 kids in a middle school built for 1,300 and we can’t put 1,200 kids in an elementary school built for 850, we have to have more buildings. There is no way around that.”

This year Lake Travis ISD also shifted its academic schedule by starting earlier to even out the fall and spring semesters. This also means school will end earlier, now in May instead of June.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story had the bond at $258 million but it is $253 million.

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