Jamie Wilson: Strength in education keeps DISD growing

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Each day, more than 1,200 people move into the state of Texas. Those of us fortunate enough to live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area are experiencing a majority of that growth.

Denton County is now among the 20 fastest-growing counties in the country.

As the expansion of Interstate 35E begins to enter into northern Denton County, we are witnessing first-hand the impact such exponential growth has on our community.

After all, these individuals are coming to Texas and they are not bringing roads with them.

The same holds true for our students. The Denton school district is one of the fastest-growing school districts in Texas. Just as these new Texas residents are not bringing roads with them, nor are they bringing classrooms, school buildings, buses or other necessary educational resources.

Currently, there are more than 1,000 homes that are built annually in the Denton school district. There are more than 57 developments that represent almost 15,000 future residential lots that will be built within our district.

This does not include conceptual plans for future developments in the western section of the district that will include 25,000 additional single-family, patio and multi-family homes.

In 10 years, our student population is anticipated to grow from 26,262 to more than 36,000 students.

So why is Texas and the Denton school district growing so rapidly?

Many will tell you it is the lack of a state income tax, the job market, the oil and gas industry, etc. That may very well be the case; however, without an educated population, all of those things really do not matter too much.

In the spring of 2013, a citizen’s bond committee studied district facilities, demographic data, student enrollment and school capacity to make a recommendation to the school district trustees regarding the future of facilities within the district.

This recommendation resulted in the 2013 bond referendum held in our community on Nov. 5.

After more than 8,000 ballots were cast, our Denton school district community overwhelmingly supported the referendum 68.14 peercent (5,984) to 31.86 percent (2,798).

As a result, the school district will be able to meet the needs of pending growth, and the Denton community has once again demonstrated support for our schools.

The community has a deep respect for our students, staff and board of trustees who are the stewards of not only overseeing the most recent $312 million bond package and but also past bond referendums.

For example: Since 2005, the district has implemented six separate refinancing programs to lower the interest rate on previously issued bonds, generating $42 million in savings for district taxpayers.

To keep costs to a minimum with our fast-growing student population, the trustees and district staff also continuously look at new energy conservation projects to determine which measures can be adapted to existing and new facilities.

As the district grows, so will the number of “green” features in our schools, so long as the features have a significant return on investment.

Our community has consistently placed a high priority on the education of our future students.

In partnership with our community, our school district is committed to providing students with many opportunities, rigorous coursework and “real life” preparation as these graduates move into college or the workplace to become an integral part of the growing Texas economy.

The future is not something you enter, it is something we create.

JAMIE WILSON is superintendent of the Denton school district.

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