Education Week - November 29, 2017 - S7
Among the major
commercial and residential
Charting the Boom
Frisco, Texas, saw exponential school
enrollment growth starting in the mid-
1996: Starwood, a 550-acre
residential development with
1,200 homes, and one of the first
sub-divisions to develop
Number of Students
1998: The Trails of West
Frisco, a 538-acre residential
construction. It now includes
SOURCE: Education Week
Research Center analysis of
Common Core Data, 2017
increasing faster than the rate of student growth, the tax
impact remained relatively low, Wilkinson said.
Frisco also has a citizen bond committee made up of
about two dozen residents who provide input on what
to build and where to build. That level of community
involvement also built support for large bond projects,
While the funds from earlier bonds went primarily
toward new schools, a larger share of future programs
would likely go toward renovating and repairing existing
buildings and fewer new constructions. That will probably
make those bond programs a tougher sell, he said.
Given projections that enrollment could reach 73,000 in
the next decade-and that more than 55,000 new units of
housing are expected to be built in that same period-the
district will likely need more new schools, said Pool, the
consultant who has worked with the district.
Pressure on Staff, Community
One of the most challenging aspects of the rapid growth
was the demand on the relatively small staff.
"It was almost like as soon as you get through with a
bond program you are planning the next one," Wilkinson
Despite the building boom, the district couldn't build
schools fast enough, and a small number of students were
in temporary trailers.
Annual rezoning, when students are moved from one
school to another because of capacity issues or changes in
attendance zones, was-and continues to be-a perennial
sore spot for districts, parents, students.
"It's painful to be separated from friends that you have
made, coaches, and counselors, and teachers that you care
greatly about, and all of a sudden, you are starting this
brave new world in another high school," said Reedy, who
regrets the district was never able to make the process
more palatable to parents.
Last year, voters rejected a measure that would have
allowed the district to increase the property tax rate for
its maintenance and operations budget by 13 cents for
every $100 of assessed valuation. The money would have
gone toward hiring staff for four schools that were slated
to open this fall. The district has pushed off the schools'
openings to 2018.
Coming up with funds for new buildings while keeping
up existing schools can be a challenge virtually anywhere.
In Montgomery County, Md., which added 24,000
students in the last decade, bringing the enrollment to
162,000, the superintendent recently proposed a $1.8 billion
capital improvement plan for new schools and upgrades.
"There is not an unending amount of money to try to
address all of those needs," said Adrienne Karamihas, the
acting director of capital planning in the Montgomery
County district, which is part of suburban Washington, D.C.
When new developments crop up, districts also have to
worry about equity: how to ensure that the newest schools,
with state-of-the-art facilities, are not concentrated in the
newer parts of town.
In Frisco, officials often ask whether features planned for
new schools would benefit all students. If so, the district
makes an effort to add the same or similar features to other
buildings through renovations and upgrades. Newer high
schools, for example, have 600-seat auditoriums, so the
district went back to Frisco High School, built in 1996, and
added a 600-seat auditorium, Fouche said.
The district also built a career and technical education
center to ensure that all high school students have access
to state-of-the-art technology regardless of where they
took most of their classes.
Pat Guseman, PASA's president and chief demographer,
and Pool gave Frisco officials high marks for the way they
handled the growth.
"It required the superintendent and the assistant
superintendent to be very involved," Pool said. "They all
learned to like numbers-even if they didn't. I see other
districts that struggle much more than they did, with a
lower [rate of] growth."
City Manager Purefoy said it was about having the right
people, in the right place, at the right time-from excellent
demographers to a school board that was supportive of
Frisco's commitment to small schools.
"I think it's also a prime example of a city and a
school district working together and how that helps all
the citizens," he said. "If you can keep the politics out
of it ... it helps everybody." n
1998: Hall Park opens.
The office complex will later grow
from one building into a 162-acre
campus with more than 2.5
million square feet of office
2000: Stonebriar Centre,
a shopping mall anchored by
national chains such as Macy's
and Nordstrom, opens.
2000: Construction begins on
Heritage Green. The development
313 homes, adding 260 students
to the school system.
2001: Construction begins on
The Fairways, a residential
development with nearly
600 single-family homes, adding
about 620 students.
2001: Construction begins
on Hunters Creek , a 275-acre
residential development with 864
2004: The Dallas North
Tollway is extended to Frisco,
making it easier to commute
between Dallas and Frisco.
2004: Construction begins on
The Heights at Westridge in
nearby McKinney. The
development has 1,322 housing
lots, adding about 1,250 students.
SOURCES: City of Frisco; Dallas
Morning News; Population and
Survey Analysts; Education Week
THE NEW SCHOOLHOUSE