Gunter ISD 2017… Growth!

What an AMAZING first two weeks of school!  We hope you enjoyed the Back to School pics – there was so much excitement in our hallways at all of our campuses!  There were also a LOT more KIDS!!!  We are currently at 924 students district wide with several more headed our way next month! That is an increase of 114 students from last fall, or 14% district wide!  Even more surprising, 89 students of the 114 are new residents in Gunter (not transfer students).  Given that significant increase, I wanted to share with you some of the things we are doing proactively to prepare for growth:

  1. Strategic Planning: Within our Strategic Planning process, growth is one of the five main areas. We have a broad-based group of school and community members focused on sustainable growth with an emphasis on preparation and a major focus on maintaining our culture while we grow.
  2. Demographic Study: Gunter ISD has contracted with a demographer who will begin the process of talking with future developers, existing MUDs, city leadership and other entities to give us our first look at what a future build-out could look like including 5 and 10 year projections.
  3. Facility Analysis:  Our board will engage in a deep study of our facilities, focusing on capacities at each campus; start the discussion process for preferred school sizes; and long-term building plan for facilities. We will also be looking at when future bond funds might be available and what we may need to do in the gap between when a building might be needed vs. when a building could actually be built (for example, if we feel we need a new campus in 5 years but our property values won’t be high enough to call for a bond election for 7 years, what will we do in the meantime?).
  4. Deepening Relationships with the City: The Board had its first Joint Meeting with the Gunter city leadership last month to open lines of communication about what each entity is seeing in terms of future growth and development along with discussions of areas for future partnerships.
  5. Looking for Land: The GOOD news is that there are several elementary and middle school sites that have been dedicated to GISD in MUD agreements. The BAD news is that many of these agreements are old and as new developers come into play, we’re not 100% sure they are all locked in. Another challenge is that we may need land before one of these MUDs come online.  Finally, these dedicated sites are only 12-15 acres and a fully built out high school campus requires between 60-80 acres. Our current combined MS/HS site is 33.  We will continue to look for land for a future high school site as land prices will continue to rise. Having said that, a future high school will most likely not be the next campus built.  Our most pressing need is for space at the younger grades, given that GES has our largest population at 370 students and that campus is built on 3.99 acres (i.e., little room for expansion).
  6. Transfer Policies:  As I’ve shared in the past, nearly 20% of our total enrollment includes transfer students from 17 different surrounding communities. These students bring in well over $1 million every year! This year our transfer process was extremely competitive and less than 50% of all applications were accepted. Later this fall we will be considering whether to close any grade levels or campuses to transfers for 2018-19 to ensure there is room for future growth. These decisions will only impact future transfer students (not current transfer students or siblings of current transfer students).

ALL this to say… we’re ON it!  While we may not know what our future will bring, we can be aggressive in our planning, conservative in our financial decisions and proactive in preparing every aspect of our organization for what lies ahead.  We have the best Board of Trustees and Leadership Team in the state and I’m so thankful to be a part of the incredible future of Gunter ISD!

I’m so thankful to be a part of the incredible future of Gunter ISD!

Dr. Jill Siler

Dr Jill Siler – Gunter Independent School District Superintendent

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