TEA report highlights massive public school growth

In classrooms across the nation, public school enrollment has grown by 3 percent over the last decade. In Texas, it's nearly 20 percent.

AUSTIN, Texas -- A recently released enrollment report by the Texas Education Agency highlights the state's public school growth and changing demographics. 

"We plan on each school year, we budget in so to speak an additional 80,000 students over what we had the previous year," explained TEA spokesperson Lauren Callahan. 

The annual report breaks down those trends and is a key reference point when working with lawmakers. 

"We use this in our day-to-day work here across the agency.  Even when we are down the street like we just were this past spring with the Legislature, information that we have here in our fingerprints with this report allows us to go to the Legislature and let them know 'these are the students we're educating here in the state of Texas, this is what our growth has looked like over the last 10 years,'" said Callahan. 

The report states that from 2003-2013 school years, Texas public school enrollment grew 19 percent, compared to a national average of 3.1 percent. That represented the second-highest growth of any state in the country, behind Utah.

Last month, the US Census Bureau Report showed five of the country's eleven fastest growing cities were in Texas, helping spark growth throughout the education system.  

"We're a state that grows rapidly. We've always known that. We're a great place to live," said Callahan.

Hays CISD is one of the district's that's seen a sharp increase in students, thanks to that overall population boom.

"(Growth) falls in the range of anywhere between 500  and even as many as 900 new students a year," explained Hays CISD spokesman Tim Savoy.

In May, the district held bond elections to add a new high school and elementary school, while also replacing an existing elementary school.  Voters approved the $189,850,000 proposal, as well as a separate $60,150,000 proposal focused on various facilities upgrades and security improvements.

The new elementary school is set to open in 2018, while the new high school is set to open the following year.  Despite those additions, Savoy said the district will have to continue to plan ahead.

"We'll be right at capacity when this high school opens. So in order to try and get a little bit ahead or stay right on track, we'll try to look at high school number four as early as 2021," said Savoy.

The TEA report further breaks down demographics and socioeconomic trends amongst students.

Over the past decade, the percentage of economically disadvantaged students increased 3.6 percent (55.4 percent to 59 percent), and the number of English language learners grow 3 percent (15.9 percent to 18.9 percent).

On a district level, Savoy said administrators routinely reference those trends while devising lesson plans.

"That's what it's really about now in the education world, about providing the individualized student exactly what they need to be successful. You can't take a one size fits all in the classroom," said Savoy.

To view the full TEA report, click here

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