By Lewisville ISD Board of Trustees President Tracy Scott Miller
Great organizations must plan for the future, while remaining flexible enough to adapt when those plans must change. Lewisville ISD was proactive in planning for future schools when it was one of the fastest growing districts in Texas, and purchased suitable properties for potential elementary, middle and high school campuses.
As growth in the district slowed, so has the need for more schools to serve the communities across LISD’s 127-square mile footprint. The Board of Trustees is now in the process of selling land it no longer intends to use, which is potentially a great benefit to the municipality in which the land is located, as well as LISD.
In recent years, LISD has completed land sales in Flower Mound, Lewisville, The Colony and Carrollton, a benefit of over $29M to the district, and the communities and taxpayers it serves. The district is seeking to sell two more tracts of land in Flower Mound to two different home builders. That money cannot be used for the daily operations of the district, but must be used for capital improvements like the purchase of buses, facility improvements, and technology upgrades, which all benefit students.
The district must legally hold a bidding process to sell its land and is now in its second attempt to do so. Just as there are restrictions on how the proceeds from the sale of land can be used, there are specific legal requirements regarding the sale of land. Most notably, the district cannot sell the land below its appraised value, which presents challenges in finding buyers.
Contracts to sell the land to two high-quality home builders have not been finalized because the builders could not meet the requirements put in place by the Town of Flower Mound, specifically related to the town’s master plan and the size of the lots for these single-family homes. LISD staff and prospective bidders for the land have spent countless hours talking to town staff, presenting before planning and zoning committees, providing information and in the end offering many concessions in order to finalize a sale.
The LISD Board and administration believes the district has done everything possible to find a suitable buyer for the land, and to present viable options that will benefit the community. The Flower Mound Town Council now holds the final decision in its hands and is expected to vote regarding the sale of land at its Oct. 4 meeting.
If the district cannot capitalize on the current opportunity to sell these properties, LISD leaders have determined the district and its taxpayers would benefit from a bus barn on the Wager Road property, near Vickery Elementary School. The district has begun the process of designing such a facility, which will meet the requirements of the Town of Flower Mound’s master plan, while saving the district an estimated $5M over a 10-year period, should the LISD Board of Trustees approve the administration’s recommendation. Several years ago, the district found it could create significant savings by owning its own bus fleet, and further savings could be achieved by housing those buses in a facility nearer to the schools they serve. The district would then work to sell its existing bus barns, which need renovation, within the City of Lewisville.
Ultimately the district has two options – sell the land, which requires approval by the Town of Flower Mound, or use the land in the way allowed by current zoning restrictions. LISD would prefer to sell the land, which expands the tax base for the Town of Flower Mound, offset other capital outlay expenditures for the district and potentially bring additional students to LISD. As of now, the district believes that is the best use of the land. Without the opportunity to sell the land, which LISD has worked hard to do, the district will use it in the best way possible to benefit LISD students and families.
(This column has been corrected from the original submission that misstated the district’s estimated savings by building a bus barn.)