By Elsa Maxey
Land for a school in Telfair will probably be purchased by Fort Bend ISD, but don’t hold your breath for a new school to be constructed any time soon. “We’ve traveled a long road with this land purchase,” said outgoing school board President Sonal Bhurchar.
Many of those who moved and purchased a home in Telfair, a relatively new neighborhood in a 2,000 plus acre subdivision, said they did it because they were told a high school was planned to be built. Then nothing happened and last year they voiced their concerns to city officials in Sugar Land wanting to know who was accountable for non-delivery – Newland, the developer, or FBISD.
It was 2003, when Sugar Land first approved a General Plan for Telfair, which underwent several amendments for the development of the master planned community. In the plan, there were two elementary schools and one 65-acre high school for the Telfair neighborhood south of U.S. 90A, west of State Highway 6, and east of the New Territory subdivision.
According to Newland last year, it had set aside land for the high school, but it needed to find out whether the school district was still interested in pursuing those plans. Newland said it wanted to close out the development project in that neighborhood, alternatively with the construction of more homes.
Now that the school district has authorized the land purchase in Telfair, the type of school to be constructed may turn out differently. “We are looking at purchasing land which is different than building a high school,” said incoming school board president Sue Hohnbaum. at the May 23 board meeting.
With 2007 bond referendum funds, the school district said its intentions are to move forward with the purchase of 65 acres in Telfair for future needs at the intersection of University Boulevard and Chatham Avenue. Demographic growth projections previously called for a high school in that area, which according to Bhuchar, corresponds to students attending severely overpopulated high schools at this time.
In 2009, Newland offered to sell the land to the district at $1.25 per square foot, which was too high, according to reports of feedback from school district officials. Newland then lowered the price to $1 per square foot as announced in a city meeting last year.
At $1 per square foot, the total cost of the property is estimated to be less than $3 million, a cost estimate before the land is surveyed. Should the district move towards school construction, the school board will in all likelihood have to ask voters for the passage of a bond referendum to finance it. The last high school the district constructed cost $82 million, according to district officials at last week’s meeting. It was Ridge Point High School in Sienna Plantation, which had been known as High School # 11, and the one for Telfair was to be #12.