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Van Alstyne ISD Prepping for Growth

Leader Photo by Rodney Williams  Van Alstyne Elementary SchoolBuy Photo
Leader Photo by Rodney Williams Van Alstyne Elementary School
Leader Photo by Rodney Williams  Van Alstyne High SchoolBuy Photo
Leader Photo by Rodney Williams Van Alstyne High School

The second part of this sentence will come as no surprise to anyone: growth is coming to Van Alstyne. Nowhere is that more apparent than at the Van Alstyne ISD offices where they are experiencing firsthand the influx of families into the city.

“We’re getting calls almost daily with families inquiring about the district,” said VAISD Superintendent Dr. John Spies.

The growth of the school district directly correlates to the growth of the city itself. D. R. Horton is building at a steady clip in Georgetown while, as Spies points out, multi-acreage lots in and around Van Alstyne are also being bought.

The school district has had to deal with the growth in different ways. Currently, the growth is being felt most at the elementary and high school levels. At Van Alstyne Elementary the district hired another first grade teacher — bringing the number to six total — just weeks prior to the fill the last remaining classroom. The elementary school will have six teachers at every grade level next year. At Van Alstyne High School the numbers are project to be around 450 students, a 10 percent jump over last year and the biggest leap the district has seen in recent history.

The long-range goal for the district at this point then is to make sure it simply doesn’t run out of classrooms.

“We’ve been looking at this and planning for it for three years,” said Spies.

To that end, the school board at Monday night’s meeting will discuss and take action on holding a bond election. It must do so quickly in order to get the election on the ballot for the November general election.

The purpose of the bond would be to build additions on to the elementary and high schools and improve safety at both campuses. The proposed bond would pay for new wings housing six new classrooms at the elementary school and six new classrooms — including a culinary classroom and a science lab — at the high school. The bond money would also pay for a fire suppression system at the elementary school (which it currently does not have) and a re-do of the front of the high school so that visitors would have to pass through the office to gain access to the rest of the school. Additionally, the new classroom wings would be tornado-rated and would serve as tornado shelters for each school.

The proposed bond amount is $6.9 million, while the actual amount needed to cover the work is $8 million. The district will cover the difference out of its fund balance (think about it as the school’s savings account.)

The good news for taxpayers, according to Spies, is that an approved bond would not raise taxes.

“We’re trying to be good stewards of the money,” said Spies. “I don’t foresee raising taxes in the coming years.”

As a matter of record, the district has not raised taxes in six years. Helping in that endeavor has been a commercial tax base strengthened in recent times by the arrival of Caterpillar. A proposed peak energy plant east of the city would also help the district’s tax base should it come online. Regardless, the economic picture for the district is a bright one.

“The Board of Trustees has done a very good job as the district is very financially sound,” said Spies.

The board will host a public budget hearing on Monday at the ISD offices at 549 Miller Lane in Van Alstyne at 6 p.m. The regular meeting of the board will be held at 7 p.m.

VAISD schools welcome students for a new school year on Aug. 25.