Temple Independent School District has tentative plans to build both an elementary school and a middle school on property it is purchasing in South Temple.

The district’s board of trustees approved signing a contract on the 47-acre property in its Monday meeting. The land, situated near the junction of Old Highway 95 and Barnhardt Road, will cost $702,911.25.

Superintendent Bobby Ott said the district will most likely start by building a new elementary school in the next few years. A second elementary school — location to be determined later — and the adjoining middle school may follow.

The district is making these plans in response to new development and planned development in the southeastern area of the city.

“We have … a little over 3,000 (housing) units in the next 10 years in Temple ISD,” Ott said.

Ott said that there are nine developments either under construction or planned in the district, seven of which are in the southeastern quadrant.

The existing school that will be most strongly impacted by this growth is Raye-Allen Elementary School. The district estimates that in 10 years Raye-Allen’s student population will nearly double, going from 451 students to 803.

“We’re sitting at 8,705 students in Temple ISD (now), and we’re scheduled to be over 10,000 in 2028-29, barely over 10,000,” Ott said.

These population estimates come from a demographic study that the district commissioned last year. Templeton Demographics, a consulting firm that analyzes growth and assists with planning for a number of local school districts.

Ott said the district has been communicating with the city of Temple to make sure the district’s plans line up with infrastructure improvements that the city will be making in the next few years. Assistant City Manager Erin Smith confirmed that city government will be looking at the infrastructure impact of potential new schools.

“The city will work with Temple Independent School District to evaluate needed infrastructure and services for the future school site,” Smith said in an email from the city’s communications office.

Some community members expressed concern in online discussions that Temple ISD will need a new high school before it needs new elementary and middle schools. However, Ott said that most districts do not build a new high school until they have a total of 11,000 students.

“The demographer says (we need) one to three elementary sites in the next 10 years, one more middle school, and no high schools,” Ott said. “When you get to 10 or 11 elementaries, you usually carry more than three middle schools. When you get to over 11,000 students, that’s when you start looking at building another high school.”

Ott said that most school districts in the region have followed this pattern, including Belton and Georgetown.

“It would be fiscally irresponsible to drop $120 million in to build a new high school when you already have one that barely made 6A (status),” Ott said. “We have a very reasonable amount of kids in our high school right now — we’re like at 2,100.”

Up until recently, growth within Temple city limits has been concentrated in areas that are actually part of Belton Independent School District. That is changing.

“For a long time the city of Temple has been growing … (in) West Temple,” Ott said. “That place has gotten to a point of saturation. … This is the next place — the southeast quadrant.”