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Liberty Hill ISD Prepares for Unprecedented Growth as Williamson County Named Fastest Growing County in the Nation

 

Liberty Hill ISD Prepares for Unprecedented Growth as Williamson County Named Fastest Growing County in the Nation

 

Liberty Hill ISD Office of Communications | November 4, 2022

 

Rapid population growth in a community can elicit a wide range of reactions and opinions among community members.  Many people get excited about the thought of new restaurants, convenient access to retail stores, great schools, and the amenities that come with living in a newly developed suburban community.  On the other hand, others lament the idea of increased traffic, new housing developments, and a CVS or Starbucks on every corner.  Regardless of one’s opinion, there are no signs that the current growth is going to slow any time soon.  

 

The U.S. Census Bureau shows that between July 1, 2020, and July 1, 2021, both Georgetown’s and Leander’s populations grew by over 10 percent, the fastest in the country for communities of more than 50,000.  These communities mirrored the growth seen in Round Rock, which routinely has been named one of the fastest-growing cities in America.  

 

 

Rapid Enrollment Growth for the Next 10 Years, 1,200 to 1,500 New Students Per Year

 

Liberty Hill ISD added more than 1,500 new students during the 2021-22 school year, and more than 1000 new students this fall.  This represented a growth rate of more than 23 percent in student enrollment. 

 

 

The district is projected to enroll over 13,000 students by 2026 and over 18,600 students by 2031. Professional demographic firm, Zonda Demographics, ranked Liberty Hill ISD as the third fastest-growing school district in Austin behind Leander ISD and Georgetown ISD.  The district had nearly 2,600 new home starts last year and closings on nearly 2,100 homes.  The district boasts nearly 2,000 vacant developed lots and over 10,500 future vacant developed lots to build on.  

 

“I believe families are moving here for the school district and also to live in a smaller community outside of Austin,” said LHISD Board President Megan Parsons.  “You have that small-town country feel while being close enough to enjoy the city life and great job market that Austin offers.”

The over 2,000 annual closings in Liberty Hill ISD exceeded Hays CISD, Pflugerville ISD, Austin ISD, Hutto ISD, Del Valle ISD, Manor ISD, Dripping Springs ISD, and other fast-growth communities.  

 

“The growth, while challenging, is very exciting,” said Steve Snell, Superintendent of Schools for Liberty Hill ISD.  “The growth brings opportunities to provide excellent educational opportunities and new programs to help keep our students competitive in a global economy.”

 

While growth brings with it immense challenges, district leaders are committed to maintaining a culture focused on individual students.  “Many challenges come with rapid enrollment growth.  Classroom capacity, hiring quality teachers, transportation, instructional supplies, attendance boundaries to balance enrollment, and staying ahead of the growth with construction and bonds,” cited Superintendent Snell. “The greatest challenge is preserving the culture of this great district and the small-town feel. Thankfully, the core values of LHISD and the tenets of the strategic plan help guide us through those challenges and keep us focused on the main thing which is our students.”

 

Superintendent Snell points out that the small-town atmosphere is a core value and one that the administration and staff will continue to maintain.  “The district is growing, but children only attend one school at a time.  We focus on campus culture and classroom culture as much as district culture.  We all need to live our vision to Build Champions in Academics, Character, and Community.  We celebrate student success and effort. We also purposefully create opportunities to engage with families and help them be a part of their student’s education and experiences.”

 

Voters overwhelmingly supported a bond program in 2021 to build elementary schools #6 and #7, middle school #3, high school #2, district-wide renovations and additions, safety and security, technology, new buses, and more.  The new demographic projections, however, indicate that the district will need to accelerate the construction of these schools and may need more schools sooner than anticipated to keep up with the rapid student enrollment growth.  

 

 

“The goal of our long-range planning and bond programs is to prepare for the growth and build on a schedule so that schools are ready in time for students and no new portables will be needed,” said Superintendent Snell.  “Last year, we saw an unprecedented growth of almost 25 percent.  That massive increase forced us to place portables at most campuses.  Some of our current construction projects resulted in the need for temporary portables.”  

 

Mr. Snell points out that portables are used as a temporary solution for accommodating enrollment at overcrowded schools, but that as new campuses are opened, they will be removed.

 

Ensuring Success in the Classroom During Growth

 

Despite the unprecedented enrollment growth district administrators point out that academic rigor and high-quality instruction will remain the focus.  

 

“Staffing is a critical component in our pursuit of academic excellence,” said Mr. Todd Washburn, Assistant Superintendent of Schools.  “We recognize that the teacher is the most important factor that impacts student success. The district analyzes enrollment projection data to determine future staffing needs, and we hire the highest quality teachers possible.”  

In addition to staffing LHISD schools with a strong teaching staff, the district is focused on developing learning environments that are engaging and student-driven.  “As we design new campuses, we make sure that our focus is on student learning by creating a safe environment that is inviting and purposeful,” said Mr. Washburn. “We collect feedback from our students, staff, and community during our initial design phase to assist in the development of the design of our schools. Our vision of effective teaching and learning is centered around the Liberty Hill ISD Profile of a Panther. We design spaces promoting these profile traits, including collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving for our students. As we design our campuses, we look at current and future program needs and we are purposeful in creating flexible spaces that can adapt and adjust to future needs.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maintaining a Culture of Success and a Small-town Atmosphere

 

District leaders and educators in LHISD understand the challenges that will come with the rapid enrollment and population growth in Liberty Hill.  However, they welcome these challenges and look forward to the opportunities that will come with them.

 

 

Superintendent Snell is quick to point out what he believes will lead to continued success in Liberty Hill ISD.  “I feel the main reason families choose to live in LHISD is that this is a great community with strong families and great schools.  Students have the opportunity to participate in successful education programs from advanced academics, to career programs, to exceptional athletics and fine arts programs.  Friday Nights in Liberty Hill is like no place in the State.  That is part of the small-town atmosphere we strive to create. LHISD is a great place for students to get an education and we will continue to welcome families into our schools.”

 

Growth and change can be difficult for some, but you won’t get a sense of anxiety or fear when talking to LHISD staff.  They know that they have no control over the growth in the district, but they have complete control over the culture of the schools and the quality of the instruction, and that should make all of us optimistic about the future of Liberty Hill ISD. 

 

 

 

 



LHISD Communications
communications@libertyhill.txed.net
512-260-5580