Growth was dominant theme at NCCC meeting

Growth was dominant theme at Northern Caldwell County meeting
Posted on 11/20/2019
District News Release

DATE: NOVEMBER 20, 2019


Growth was dominant theme at Northern Caldwell County Coalition Meeting

The Northern Caldwell County Coalition (NCCC) hosted its 3rd annual “State of Northern Caldwell County” public meeting at the ML Cisneros Education Support Center in Lockhart Tuesday evening. The event provides community and business members and leaders an overview of developments in the region.  NCCC members are comprised of representatives from Caldwell County, the City of Lockhart, and Lockhart Independent School District. 

NCCC presentation panel

Caldwell County Judge Hoppy Haden, City of Lockhart Mayor Lew White, City Manager Steven Lewis, and LISD Superintendent of Schools Mark Estrada provided highlights from the county, city, and school district perspectives; however, growth emerged as the common driving theme throughout the presentation. 

LISD Executive Director of Communications & Community Services Christina Courson opened the meeting by introducing the panel of speakers and welcoming attendees.   “We want to give you a glimpse of where we are--at the county level, at the city level, and at the school district level to keep you informed,” said Courson.

NCCC audience

Caldwell County
Judge Haden began the panel discussion with an overview of Caldwell County. Poverty levels in the county have decreased by 2.1 percent since last year, and unemployment is at 3.6 percent, down from 5.2 percent in 2014. 

In 2018, the population of Caldwell County was 43,247. “We’re growing like crazy. I have been telling people we’re going to explode in ten years, and I’m finally right,” said Haden regarding the growth.

As the county continues to grow, so does the need for adequate road infrastructure to support it. In this past year, the county purchased $1.2 million in road construction equipment, replacing an aged fleet in poor condition. The county also funded engineering and environmental studies for FM 150 and Yarrington Road extension projects, looking to extend those roads towards the toll road from Highway 21 and IH-35.  There is work underway on an ambitious plan to pave all county roads over the next 12 years.

To support growth, residential opportunities continue to expand. Some of the approved subdivisions in 2019 included El Dorado on Highway 21, Fox Meadows at FM 713 and Fox Lane, Tower Meadows at Tower Road and Blanke Ankle Road, and Heartland Ranch  Alexander Acres on Ivy Smith , Compostela on Williamson Road, and Lytton Hills on 1854 are pending subdivisions. 

Haden highlighted construction related to economic development, including construction for Bluebonnet Electric. Other businesses new to Caldwell County include Turner Company, Family Dollar, and Visionary Fiber Technologies, and Promogo. 

Haden said, “Economic development is number one. I once had a boss that said no company will ever shrink its way to greatness. You have to grow, and so that’s the way to do it.” Haden spoke of the creation of a Caldwell County Economic Development Corporation, which is intended to bridge the gap for unincorporated areas not be served by the economic development corporations for Lockhart and Luling.  

City of Lockhart
Mayor White followed the county’s presentation with an overview of highlights for Lockhart. “Lockhart is constantly being highlighted in various news media,” said White. “People in surrounding areas are looking for communities such as ours with affordability of homes, business opportunities, and a very strong quality of life.”

The City Council’s economic development goals include creating and retaining jobs with a grocery campaign, retail recruitment, marketing Lockhart more effectively, potentially acquiring land and buildings for new employers or expansion of existing businesses, a unified vision for downtown development and tourism, and developing tools to facilitate recruitment to the SH 130 corridor. 

In addition, the Lockhart Economic Development Corporation is developing a new 5-year strategic plan with five goals including to define and promote Lockhart, support quality growth in export-oriented target sectors, optimize the local talent base, accommodate and manage quality growth, and create destination appeal. 

Referencing expected growth figures, White shared the population of Caldwell County is expected to double in size to 105,000 by 2045. In 2018, Lockhart had 13,924 people with a median age of 38.2. The labor force totaled 5,948 people.

In terms of job growth, the City of Lockhart experienced a 3.4 percent growth in jobs over the last year and is expected to grow by 16.4 percent in 10 years. 

The median household income for Lockhart in 2017 was $53,570, which is larger even than San Marcos with a median household income of $34,748.

The commuter data indicated fewer people are driving from Lockhart to go to work. Since 2010, 1150 fewer people have left Lockhart to go to work, which is a 45.4 percent decrease. White noted this as a demonstration that people are taking advantage of working in the city in which they live with greater work opportunities in Lockhart.

City Manager Lewis continued the presentation by describing the city’s work in the marketing collaboration of Lockhart with the Greater San Marcos Partnership, Caldwell County, City of Lockhart Economic Development, and the Austin Chamber of Commerce. “Economic development has become a team sport these days,” noted Lewis. To support the marketing efforts, the city is redesigning its website with the assistance of ED Suite, targeting information beneficial to business site selectors and other investors. 

Currently, notable employers include Fashion Glass and Mirror, Reed Prototype & Machining, Visionary Fiber Technologies, Promogo, Pure Castings Co., and Serta. The industries Lockhart targets include hospitality and retail, life sciences, information technology, manufacturing, defense, and distribution and logistics. 

The city is preparing for quality growth with enhanced infrastructure and services. A 500,000 gallon elevated storage tank is under construction at this time, and the city is developing additional water lines, a new pump station, and a new fire station. Lewis noted also the new power station built by Bluebonnet and multiple natural gas options to provide to potential employers. 

There are 17 total subdivisions with platted sites within Lockhart. The City Council and Texas Legislature approved the Clear Fork Municipal Utility District with 500 acres and 1,700 homes. Another project, Caldwell Valley, will have 3,634 acres of mixed use between Uhland and Lockhart. 

Lewis shared the city’s planning for a downtown funding development project with $4.4 million in capital improvements including water main replacement, sewer main replacement, storm drain improvements, and street improvements. Additionally, the city will offer BIG grants which provide 50 percent matching grant to reimburse up to $20,000 of well-designed property improvements in the central commercial district. 

Lockhart ISD
Superintendent Estrada was the final speaker of the event to provide an overview of Lockhart ISD. This year, the district has over 6,200 students, in line with the moderate growth projections of demographers. 

With the passing of House Bill 3 in the recent legislative session, public school districts received increased state support that enabled tax relief that resulted in a seven cent tax rate decrease. In August, the LISD Board of Trustees passed a new tax rate of $1.26236, down from last year’s tax rate of $1.33235. Lockhart ISD has one of the lowest tax rates in comparison with neighboring school districts. 

Estrada thanked Rep. John Cyrier, in attendance at the meeting, for his support in helping to pass House Bill 3, which benefitted public education and specifically Lockhart ISD. 

The student population in the fast-growth school district resulted in a significant decrease in overall school facilities capacity. Elementary capacity is at 91 percent. Lockhart Junior High School capacity is at 98 percent. Lockhart High School’s capacity is at 92 percent. The ability to meet the needs of the student growth in educationally appropriate ways is one of the greatest priorities for the school district at this time. 

“Our senior class has less than 325 students in it, which was normal for the past few years, but those days have well passed us. Our 8th grade class has over 500 students. Our 7th grade class has over 500 students. Our 6th grade class has over 500 students,” said Estrada. “As these students move up, even without any growth, in three years, we will be over capacity at Lockhart High School. So our capacity needs are very real, very urgent, and the district is working with the board and the community to figure out our next steps.”

LISD is expected to grow another 1000 students in 5 years and another 2000 students in 10 years. “We want to do this in a way that our kids have everything that any other kid would have in any other community,” added Estrada. “Putting up portable buildings all across our district is just not something that, while I am superintendent, is going to be a long-range strategy. We’ve got to do something that gives our kids and our teachers what they need and what they deserve so our kids can learn at the highest levels just like any other kid in any other community.”

Even as the district faces challenges, Estrada concluded his presentation with district celebrations. This month’s student performance data indicates it was the district’s best month ever in growing students academically. A total of 70 percent of LISD students are on pace to grow 1.5 years, a focus that anchors the school district’s strategy for all students’ growth and success. 

Other district highlights included the LISD Board’s recognition in training other school districts in excellent governance; expansion of career and technical education courses for high school students to better prepare them for the local workforce; achievements of the fine arts program, including Lockhart High School’s theater program being rated in the top 24 programs in Texas as a result of the access to facilities such as the Gerry Ohlendorf Performing Arts Center, funded by the 2014 bond; all of the sports this year have gone to the playoffs as the expectations for students continue to rise, and the Roaring Lion Band has made their mark across Texas in competitions. 

Those unable to attend the NCCC event can click here to view the video recording. To view the presentation slides from the event, click here or visit the district website at www.lockhartisd.org to view it under the “Community” tab. 



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