Mesquite’s school district is turning away major housing projects, according to a survey commissioned by the city.
Concerned about slowing development around Mesquite, city officials surveyed 30 major builders in the area. Of the nine who responded, the majority felt that Mesquite schools had a negative perception throughout the region.
“It really caught us off guard,” said Laura Jobe, spokeswoman for Mesquite ISD.
The district has approximately 40,000 students. In comparison to state data, Mesquite ISD has above average numbers when it comes to graduation and attendance rates.
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However, the survey found that neighboring districts, such as Forney, Sunnyvale and Heath, are considered to be of higher ranking than Mesquite.
“I would hold our district up to any community around us,” Jobe said. "And I think our parents and our community would feel that way, as well.”
But housing options in the community have decreased in recent years. According to the city, the trend of home starts for the city has not followed the trend in the eastern Dallas market, which has seen significant new development in recent years. Instead, development has grown stagnant.
In 2009-2010, the city made plans to build homes in the Ridge Ranch development. To attract families, two new schools were even built. However, the housing never came to fruition, and the land still sits vacant.
“It's been a trend that we've been monitoring for some time now,” said Wayne Larson, communications manager for the city.
Part of the challenge has been in building and selling higher-end homes. The average price of a house in Mesquite is $123,450, according to data from March of 2015. In neighboring Sunnyvale, it’s approximately $300,000.
It’s a gap Larson said they’re working to close.
“The price point that we are searching for is something in the $200-300,000 price range,” he explained.
Not far from Ridge Ranch, Larson believes they’re getting close to that goal.
One property on Harrier Drive could be selling at their highest price point to date.
“You've got homes that are reselling for $200-250,000,” said Larson. “This community is a good example of what we are trying to achieve here in Mesquite.”
In order to get there, the city plans to work on its marketing strategy.
If the concern is with the school district, Larson said they will address it.
In the coming weeks, the city plans to partner more closely with the district, in an effort to better share the community’s academic accomplishments.
“We need to leverage that strong partnership with the school district to tell our message even more specifically to the home builders,” he said. “We're not out there telling our story as much as we should be.”