Even with housing growth projections recently announced for Lebanon and a 300-home development announced for Whitestown, Lebanon Community Schools Superintendent Robert Taylor said LCSC has room for the growth.
A new CalAtlantic Homes development was announced earlier this month at a 125-acre site just south of Walker Farms between Whitestown’s Main Street and County Road 575 East. That development is expected to add 300 new homes in the coming years.
As for Lebanon, a 40-home development was announced in August by Gradison Land Development for 60.53 acres of vacant farmland southwest of the intersection of Witt Road and C.R. 250 N. The overall growth projection for Lebanon is still nebulous, but the city’s recent housing study from John Burns Real Estate Consulting, LLC, projects that the city could potentially need up to 144 new homes per year over the next five years.
Working under the U.S. Census Bureau estimate for children per household in Indiana, each of the 340 planned homes could each bring 1.87 children into Lebanon schools. Multiplying those, the district could grow by 635.8 students.
Children in fifth grade or younger who move to one of the new homes in Whitestown would attend Perry-Worth Elementary School, while children moving to the Witt Road development would attend Harney Elementary Shool.
“I’m excited about the growth in Lebanon and Whitestown and the schools are going to be excited about new students,” Taylor said.
Taylor estimated that most elementary schools in the corporation could fit 300 to 400 more students without construction, while Perry-Worth is slightly more cramped, with room for around 200 more children.
Children moving to either development would attend Lebanon Middle School or Lebanon High School. With around 1,000 students at LHS, Taylor said the building has room to accommodate 400 more. Meanwhile LMS can add up 300 more students before capacity is met.
Hoping for growth, Taylor said LCSC overbuilt each school building to hold more students than the district had at the time. That growth was made possible by a 2010 referendum that raised $40 million to make improvements at each school building, Taylor said.
Because of the referendum, Taylor projected that schools would be comfortable for two to four years. Though the schools have room to grow, Taylor said the district is not being complacent. Instead, administrators are closely following housing and business development news for Lebanon and Whitestown.
Going forward, Taylor said the plan is to monitor each school’s growth and keep open the possibility of redistricting, especially if housing growth in Lebanon kicks off like city leaders hope it will.
Because of many unknown factors, such as the ages of students who will move into the homes and the number of students per household, Taylor said the district will remain in wait-and-see mode until the growth arrives.
“We don’t want to be presumptuous and assume it will happen,” Taylor said. “We are planning and we are trying to be strategic. We have to look at the triggers that will show us it is time to turn some dirt.”
With the school district in little debt and in good financial standing, Taylor said there should be no issue procuring a new bond for construction if certain schools do need to be expanded.