Pasadena ISD Bond Election       Tuesday, November 2, 2004

South Belt still booming

In the eyes of developers, the South Belt region continues to be considered prime real estate. With more homes going up in the area, more students are coming through school doors.

MetroStudy conducted an analysis of property that is currently being developed or has been platted by developers. The report shows more than 2,200 new homes or apartments located in the district east of I-45. An additional 5,000 plus homes or apartments are planned in the district west of I-45.

The largest development is the continued build out of Riverstone Ranch on Blackhawk Road in the South Belt area. Approximately one-fourth of the acreage has been built, leaving more than 1,650 homes still on the planning board. Other large developments in the South Belt region include Centex Homes and Beazer Homes with 630 and 610 homes projected, respectively. An apartment complex at the intersection of Sabo and Beltway 8 will feature 610 units.

"These developments are moderately priced homes ideal for young couples with children," said Dr. Robert Landry, Pasadena ISD's director of research and evaluation. "The homes are occupied almost as quickly as they are built."

With these developments taking shape, demographic studies show that enrollments will see a significant increase. The study says Beverly Hills and Thompson Intermediate schools will top 1,300 students by 2008, with Dobie High School's enrollment climbing to 4,400 students. Studies also show that Jessup Elementary will grow to more than 1,400 students in four years.

In addition, other developments are fueling enrollment in South Belt area schools. One development is within the Highway 3 and I-45 corridor. Another major development, Southway Gardens, is currently underway with plans to build 348 new homes. A new area, recently platted by Lennar Homes could bring as many as 800 additional homes to the district.

"The continually rising levels of student achievement have made our area and Pasadena ISD an attractive place for families to call home," said Dr. Rick Schneider, Pasadena ISD superintendent. "We must continue to follow our vision for success for all children. We also must have the facilities to accommodate them."

With enrollments continuing to increase and leaving the possibilities of cramped surroundings on many South Belt campuses, Pasadena ISD has called a $299.88 million bond election for Nov. 2 that will encompass many facility needs, including those in the southern region of the district. The bond package includes building expansions that would provide relief at Dobie and Memorial high schools, along with the construction of two new elementary schools in the Riverstone Ranch and Jessup attendance areas.

Additionally for the South Belt area, the construction of a middle school campus that would house fifth and sixth grade students near the Hobby area is proposed in the package awaiting voters. The school would serve students from Jessup, Matthys and South Houston elementary schools, along with South Houston Intermediate. The Morris Fifth Grade Center would then be converted to a fifth and sixth grade campus.

The proposal also calls for several upgrades and improvements to Frazier and Meador elementary schools, as well as Thompson Intermediate School. At Meador Elementary, plans include lighting improvements, student restroom renovations, improvements to entry doors, roof and air conditioning upgrades. Plans for Thompson Intermediate include entry door upgrades, asbestos abatement, air conditioning improvements, upgrades to lighting, exit signage and piping. The proposal also targets electrical upgrades, student restroom renovations, improvements to air conditioning, entry doors, lighting and exit signage at Frazier Elementary.

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