NCCC event spotlights growth and development

‘State of Northern Caldwell County’ event spotlights growth and development
Posted on 11/08/2018
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‘State of Northern Caldwell County’ event spotlights growth and development

The Northern Caldwell County Coalition (NCCC) hosted a public meeting at the Gerry Ohlendorf Performing Arts Center (GOPAC) at Lockhart High School Wednesday afternoon to spotlight economic developments and community growth at the 2nd annual State of Northern Caldwell County event.

Lockhart City Manager Steve Lewis, Caldwell County Judge Ken Schawe, LISD Superintendent Mark Estrada, and Lockhart Mayor Lew White

A panel of speakers from Caldwell County, the City of Lockhart, and Lockhart Independent School District addressed an audience of diverse stakeholders, including parents, grandparents, retirees, business owners, elected officials, members of the

Lockhart Chamber of Commerce and Greater Caldwell County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, representatives from the Education Foundation for Lockhart ISD Board of Directors, and other community members.

“Each one of us, in our areas, is witnessing and experiencing growth in very real ways, and we know as leaders, we can work together to provide a better picture and understanding of growth when we communicate regularly,” said LISD Executive Director of Communications and Community Services Christina Courson, who facilitated the event. “When we share information with each other, we have a better understanding. As leaders, when we have a better understanding, we make better decisions for our community.”

Caldwell County Judge Ken Schawe provided an overview of Caldwell County, but a he especially highlighted the profound effect of four declared disasters on the area over the past four years. He noted an estimated 8 million dollars or more in county road damage and a priority focus to repair county roads. FEMA is providing nearly $1 million, which will help with repairs.

He also highlighted road construction projects, including the FM150/Yarrington Road project and the Luling Relief Study, approved and pending subdivisions, increased market value of houses in Caldwell County, new voting equipment, and the hiring of a grant writer for the County to pursue and secure funding to enhance services.

“The growth is coming,” concluded Schawe, describing Caldwell County as moving towards “a brighter future and higher standard of living.”

The City of Lockhart followed Schawe’s presentation with an overview of infrastructure, community development, and economic development.  “We live in an interesting time and interesting place,” noted Lockhart City Manager Steve Lewis. “From Dallas/Fort Worth to Austin/San Antonio to Houston, there are 18 million people living in the Texas Triangle, which is about 75 percent of the Texas population. We have a certain locational advantage already because of where we live.”

Lewis highlighted developments in Lockhart, which includes a regional water plant to be operational by 2023 with a total capacity of nearly five billion gallons of water per year. Lockhart will benefit from access to over 977 million gallons annually, enabling the city to serve the growing community as well as sell water to other water suppliers.

Lewis also spoke about plans to improve and enhance Lockhart’s park and recreational space, described housing and commercial developments approved or underway, totaling about 800 lots.  His presentation affirmed developers see the potential in Lockhart and are responding, and the city continues to build capacity for future growth.

Lockhart Mayor Lew White continued the presentation describing a proposed subdivision located just outside the city limits, creating a municipal utility district, that could have a major impact on the city.  The project, Clear Fork Ranch, would provide up to 1700 homes over a 10-year period of time.

A complete redesign is now finished to accommodate the development of a 15-bed hospital, replacing the originally proposed seven bed emergency room facility. This new facility will be approximately 20,000 square feet with a completed pre-design for expansion up to 40,000 square feet. These completed plans have recently been submitted to the City of Lockhart.

White additionally spoke of other special projects underway for Lockhart, including efforts for wayfinding and new branding, amendments to subdivision regulations, the realignment of City Line Road related to the 15-bed hospital to be built, and a new Fixed Base Operator for the airport for its operation and maintenance.

In terms of economic development, White said 2017 was a strong year for Lockhart with $19 million in investments, creating 250 jobs , and continued activity on the city square. He provided a peek at potential economic projects for 2018 that could provide up to $43.5 million in capital investment and up to 510 jobs.

“The message is getting out about Lockhart,” said White.  “Lockhart is on the upswing, and we’re going to try to keep it going in that direction.”

NCCC Panel Speakers

Lockhart ISD’s Superintendent of Schools Mark Estrada was the fourth speaker for the NCCC event. He outlined  the state of the school district as well as planning for growth. “Everything that we do is about building excellence,” said Estrada in addressing the audience. “We have a really ambitious culture, expecting everyone to push themselves, embrace growth, and achieve at high levels.”

The district’s current enrollment has topped 6,100 students, a first for the fast-growth school district. The district continues to serve as one of the largest employers in the area with over 700 employees. Estrada spoke to the financial health of the district, operating a $58 million budget with an “A Superior” rating for financial management by the Texas Education Agency. At a tax rate of $1.33, LISD’s rate is the third lowest in comparison to 14 other area school districts.

This year, LISD is focused on two specific district targets for student achievement. First, every student in Kindergarten through eighth grade will make 1.5 years growth in reading and math in 2018-2019. Second, 90 percent of students taking the English II STAAR EOC will meet STAAR progress measure requirements, meaning they will make more than one year of progress since their last STAAR EOC.

Estrada shared, “I’m proud to say we were looking at data today, and we see teachers who have 100 percent of their students on track to make 1.5 years of growth. That’s a huge celebration because we have teachers in our district, right now, who show it is possible to grow our students more than a year.”

Estrada highlighted demographic projections of student growth through 2027. The district’s current population nearly reaches the demographer’s previous projections for “high” growth. To prepare for continued growth, the superintendent shared the district closely monitors growth and reviews facility use and staffing to ensure LISD is maximizing the use of existing resources while protecting quality learning experiences for all students. Meanwhile, the district continues to pay down debt to increase its capacity for any potential future bonds.

Demographer growth projections for LISD

The district ended with an invitation for the community to participate in a free event, the Look at Lockhart Tour 2018, which takes place Monday, November 27. A bus will leave the Gerry Ohlendorf Performing Arts Center at Lockhart High School at 9 am to take participants on a tour of an elementary school, junior high school, and high school to provide a real-time glimpse at instruction in LISD. The two hour tour will conclude at Lockhart High School with a chance to hear current students share how LISD is preparing them for their futures. Anyone in the community is welcome to attend.

To view the presentation slides from the event, click here or visit the district website at to view it under the “Community” tab. 

A video of the event will be available on the website and announced on district social media tomorrow, November 9. 

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