Denton ISD now has nearly 38 acres in southern Aubrey ISD under contract, following a Feb. 11 school board vote.
If the sale is finalized, Denton ISD is set to spend nearly $2.3 million on the property at 8400 Fishtrap Road in Cross Roads, which might eventually house additional agricultural science facilities.
The current property owner, Brent Fankhauser, paid $2.15 million for the property in December 2017, according to the Denton Central Appraisal District.
School board members Dorothy Martinez and Jeanetta Smith were not present for the vote.
The eastern portion of Fishtrap Road marks the border between the Aubrey and Denton school districts, with Aubrey ISD claiming properties to the north and Denton ISD taking those south of the road.
The acreage located at 8400 Fishtrap Road rests alongside the road’s northern edge.
Reached by phone Wednesday afternoon, Denton ISD Superintendent Jamie Wilson said the district would have much preferred to find a property within its own boundaries, but that a plot of land that big can’t go by without consideration.
He said the property already has a show arena and several barns, so a transition into using it for an ag science program shouldn’t be too difficult. He estimated it would take one to two years for students to be able to start using potential facilities.
Wilson said potential improvements to the property would be paid for as part of the $750.5 million bond package passed by voters in 2018. The package calls for $30.6 million to go toward career and technical education projects, which includes a new ag science center.
In addition to a place to house animals, Wilson said potential facilities might provide space for some welding certification tests. Above all, however, Wilson said he hopes the facility will help the district connect to the strong rural feeling in that part of the county: “That’s really the flavor of that area.”
He said Denton ISD has increased partnerships by bringing students from other districts to the LaGrone Advanced Technology Complex, and a potential ag facility near Braswell High School would help further those partnerships.
Even with a hefty agricultural use exemption on the land, property taxes due to Aubrey ISD have nearly doubled over the past five years, according to Denton County records. In 2015, $9,635 were due in school district taxes. That number was just over $19,000 in 2019.
If Denton ISD purchases the property, neighboring Aubrey ISD will be out that growing slice of revenue.
In a prepared statement transmitted through a district spokeswoman, Aubrey ISD Superintendent David Belding said the two districts have a long history of cooperation. He also made clear both he and his district were aware of the possible purchase at their southern border.
“While Aubrey ISD would lose some property value from our tax rolls, Denton ISD is sensitive to the impact,” Belding’s statement says. “I fully anticipate a partnership to be developed to help our district.”
Wilson said Denton ISD has several ways to repay Aubrey schools for that loss. He mentioned Wednesday the possibility of swapping another piece of real estate or granting increased ag center access.
As for specifics, he said district officials can iron those out as the deal progresses.
Denton ISD was scheduled to pay just shy of $30,000 in earnest money to Fankhauser by 5 p.m. Wednesday. According to a copy of the contract obtained by the Denton Record-Chronicle, March 18 is set as the latest closing date.