3rd in a series
By Elsa Maxey
Located in the western part of Fort Bend County, Lamar Consolidated Independent School District (LCISD) is growing. That message was clearly heard from Dr. Thomas Randle, Superintendent of the school district during the recent state of the schools address. He said the student population this fall semester would number 25,416 citing how, over the course of just five years, LCISD has added almost 5,000 students.
After Kendleton ISD ceased to exist about a year ago, LCISD took in that school district’s elementary school population. It had already been serving middle and high school students from there.
LCISD’s geographic jurisdiction covers 385 miles from where students come to 36 of the district’s schools. A breakout shows a majority of the campuses, 21, to be elementary schools. There are also three middle schools, four junior high schools, four high schools and four special sites including the Alternative Learning Center. Overall, the school district is a Recognized District showing 75 percent of the schools classified as Recognized or Exemplary.
Dr. Randle proudly said LCISD improved from being ranked 74th in 2004 to 10th in 2010 on the Educational Performance Index.
With Project Lead the Way undergoing its second year in all the district’s high schools, the program is for students interested in engineering careers, said Dr. Randle. LCISD high schools will be working on having program campuses nationally certified for students to earn college credits. This year, a total of 435 students are enrolled in the engineering study program as compared to last year’s total of 329 students.
But, not unlike the school districts across the state, LCISD, too, has responded to budget reductions from the 82nd Legislature, when the state adopted its budget. There were massive educational cuts and LCISD adjusted staffing guidelines and absorbed 117 teaching positions and 21 paraprofessionals, accomplished with “no staff layoffs,” said Dr. Randle. The district’s 2011-12 adopted budget totals $181,440,070. The district receives education jobs grant funds amounting to $3.98 million and another $500,000 in federal grant funds. For the upcoming 2012-13 year, LCISD expects to see a reduction of $16.8 million “and for the first time, there will be no funding for growth,” said Dr. Randle, and that will happen alongside the addition of more than 80,000 students across the state with about 850 new ones going to LCISD.
Meetings earlier this year of a citizens’ bond committee comprised of 41 community members, school principals and assistant principals, and one student were held before the school term ended this past spring, advised Dr. Randle. The committee recommended a bond referendum for the school’s future plans followed by the call for an election by the school board. In 2006, voters approved a $281 million bond package for the school district.
Dr. Randle said that the bond referendum on the ballot this November is for $249.2 million and it includes the construction of five new campuses, one near Fulshear; a bus barn, a natatorium, building renovations, property purchases for future schools, and new computers and other technology upgrades.
Recently, the LCISD board met to discuss priorities and planning for the district. It is reported that of significant importance, the district intends to prepare itself for the expected growth in student enrollment projected to be up to 1,000 students per year for the next 10 years. The projected growth is tied to the projects in the $249 million bond referendum and considered to be part of the school district’s 10-year facilities plan.
Data cited by Dr. Randle when he addressed participants at the state of the schools presentation hosted by the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce included the total number of school buses operated by the district, 265, that transport 11,570 students on 466 bus routes, some 2.7 million miles with fuel accounting for over a million dollar expense in 2010.
LCISD serves students living in Richmond, Rosenberg, Kendleton, Simonton, Thompsons, Fulshear, Crabb, Booth and a portion of Pleak and Sugar Land; also students in many new residential developments throughout the unincorporated rural areas in western Fort Bend County.