District officials believe housing boom is the cause

Denison is facing an increase in housing permits that have brought crowding to the Denison Independent School District. The city has projected there to be 180 available lots for housing developments in the Hyde Park Elementary School attendance zone with 637 estimated potential future lots in the same district.

Lamar Elementary School attendance zone showed 21 available lots, 56 in Mayes Elementary School’s zone and six in Terrell Elementary School’s zone. Houston Elementary has zero lots reported in its district for future housing permits.

Information on the increased number of housing permits and how it affects the district was presented during the city and district’s joint meeting Monday.

The data showed a total of 505 housing permits issued between 2000 to 2015 with 1,144 issued from 2015 to present. Only 62 permits had been issued total between 2010 and 2014.

In a telephone interview Tuesday, Denison ISD Superintendent Henry Scott said the prior to 2014 the school district had not seen significant growth, and since that time the district has added over 400 students in those five short years.

He also said the district lost about 1,800 students around 1970 when Perrin Air Force Base closed. From there, the district has fluctuated from a high of 4,700 students enrolled to a low of 4,350 students enrolled.

Things began to turn around in 2014, and the growth is not projected to slow down, Scott said.

“If you look at the growth, the charts show a good portion is in the Hyde Park area,” Scott said. “We had more growth at Mayes this year. I think we are in good shape at the other three (primary) campuses. The potential for Hyde Park for all that development long term is going to be a challenge. Hopefully, this build out will hold us over for the next five or six years.”

He said a variety of factors kicked in all at once to bring an accelerated population increase to the area beginning in 2014. He said it started

With Texoma Medical Center expanding and bringing jobs to the area, Scott said 2015 started an increase of young people coming to the area, and a lot of families came from the Metroplex. Gateway Village was also a catalyst. He said that is only about half filled and more development is projected for the coming years. He also said Texoma Health Foundation Park was a big draw.

“I am not sure if any one thing has triggered this,” Scott said. “I think it has all come together at the same time.”

Currently, the district has not considered changing the attendance zones, and Scott said it that would have to be something the facility planning committee decides once it is formed. Right now, the district is working on getting a study done by its demographer. That will begin in the spring and will take about three months.

Scott said he thinks the school board will most likely form the committee of between 30-40 members of the community after that study is competed, similar to the way the last committee was formed. His recommendation is for a variety of perspectives by bringing people from different areas of the community to provide input. He expects it will include faculty and administrators from each of the campuses, as well as, residents from within each of the seven wards, city staff, the Chamber of Commerce and representation from the Denison Development Alliance along with members of the public at-large.

“The long-term solution is to build a school of 600 or so students to replace Houston Elementary,” Scott said. “The maximum we can put in that building is about 300. It is an older school. We do not have the space there to build onto it because it is on a really small piece of property. This committee will have to determine what we do with Houston.”

Scott said current growth is about two to three percent annually. However, he noted it has picked up in recent years and could get up to 8-10 percent which would quickly put the entire district in a bind for space.