Pasadena ISD Bond Election       Tuesday, November 2, 2004

New elementary schools proposed to handle
growth in Jessup, Riverstone Ranch areas

The rapid growth of the Riverstone Ranch subdivision and new housing developments in the Jessup attendance zone has prompted a building plan to provide relief for predicted substantial enrollment increases.

Riverstone Ranch is located off of Blackhawk Road just past Dobie High School and is the largest development in the district. Approximately one-fourth of the acreage has been built, leaving more than 1,300 homes still on the planning board. In the Jessup attendance zone, the Clearwood Crossing development will eventually feature 600 homes. The evolution of Clearwood, coupled with the construction of several other developments in the area has prompted demographers to project Jessup's enrollment to exceed 1,500 students by 2008.

The two schools are part of a $299.88 million bond package facing voters on Nov. 2. The bond issue also includes numerous other proposals that would address the district's growth and concerns over aging facilities.

The new school proposed in Riverstone would relieve projected enrollment in the Frazier Elementary attendance zone as the development expands. Demographic studies show that Frazier's enrollment will jump from just over 520 students, to more than 830 students by 2006.

"Families are moving into these homes (in Riverstone) as quickly as they are completed," said Robert Landry, Pasadena ISD's director for research and evaluation. "With more than 1,300 homes left to be built in the subdivision, we'll see a dramatic increase in enrollment numbers in the next 2-3 years."

In addition, 140 additional homes are being built in the Lakes of Golfcrest subdivision that is located adjacent to Riverstone Ranch. "The price range of these homes are unique to most young homebuyers," Landry said. "Most of them are less than $175,000 and are attractive to young families."

Landry said the quality of the Pasadena schools and the accessibility of Beltway 8, State Highway 288 and Interstate 45 are appealing to homebuyers.

"When families relocate, the key factors they consider are the quality of the schools and accessibility to work and other destinations," he said. "From what we can see, these factors have carried a very strong appeal with parents."

Affordable housing is also attracting families to developments in the Jessup attendance zone. Clearwood Crossing has several houses completed, while many new developments will soon take shape.

Landry said KB Homes is constructing 160 homes near Tavenor Road, while the South University development by Gil Ramirez Homes near Rowlett Road will feature 120 new homes. Another development is planned in the same area that will make room for 140-160 new home sites. Construction is also pending on a 354-unit apartment complex on Almeda-Genoa. The Wayfarer development behind Clearwood Crossing will have space for 60 homes.

With the new developments going up, Jessup Elementary Principal Emily Simancas is bracing for more students to enter the school's doors. Officials said 900 students attended the first day of classes at Jessup to start the 2004-2005 school year.

"We're already utilizing all of the classroom space we have now," she said. "We added portables last year, but we'll have to continue to try and make room for more kids that are on the way."

Simancas is concerned that more cramped quarters at her school will put a strain on the learning environment.

"If our enrollment holds true to predictions, it will make for our classrooms being more compacted," Simancas said. "The more kids you have in a classroom, the less one-on-one instructional time you have with them."

According to studies, three elementary schools will exceed 1,000 students in two years with 19 campuses exceeding the district's goal of 750 students for its elementary schools.

"Students learn best in the hands of a qualified and capable teacher in a school environment that offers quality facilities and ample space," said Pasadena ISD Superintendent Dr. Rick Schneider. "This facility plan and bond issue is most importantly about meeting student needs and the student growth taking place in our school district."

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