Hays County has always been a place of community effort. That effort was crucial to establishing the school district’s second high school site and I’m proud to have been a part of it.
In 2001 The Hays CISD Administration office hired John B. Sanford Real Estate to assist the district in finding two new school sites. Student growth had caused the need for a new high school. We had several early meetings about the process. The staff informed me that when a district changed from one high school to two high schools that this was more difficult than moving from two high schools to three. We had to take in account the location of Hays High School which was in the middle part of the western half of the district. The new high school site could not be too close to Hays High school. This requirement caused the search to be in an arc from FM 1626 and the Travis County Line over to the east side of IH 35 and then south to the extreme south end of the district. The school district already owned a large enough land tract on FM 967 just to the west of FM 1626, so this site was included as the first option along the arc.
As I contacted land owners along this arc, at times I received the response, “John do not consider part of my property, move along to your other choices.” It was becoming clear that not everyone wanted a new high school as a neighbor. Eventually we found a list of eight land tracts along the arc that were far enough away from Hays High School. The staff wanted to narrow it down to the three best choices and then let the school board make the final decision.
The final decision came down to a tract of land owned by Ted Lehman off of Bunton Creek Rd in Kyle. As I sat across from him at his kitchen table and discussed the possible sale of some of his farm land he told me, “Mr. Sanford if it was anybody else wanting some of my land I would not sell, but because it is for the school district I will try to make this work.” At that time, I did not realize that he was a former Hays CISD School Board President.
Mr. Lehman was very particular about where the boundary line would be since he would still own the adjacent land. He did not like the location of one of the surveyor’s stakes and on a rainy muddy day he told me to find a jeep and he and I would drive out in the mud and drive a stake at the exact point where he wanted it. After we finished, he asked,” Mr. Sanford, Where did you get this jeep.” I told him that I had borrowed it from Michael Thames.” He commented, “Those Thames boys are good boys.” I answered, “Yes sir.” He added, “They both played football for Hays. That John Thames would really hit you if you carried the ball around his side of the field. Be sure and tell Michael Thank you for the loan of the jeep.”
All through this process there was concern in the community about football coach Bob Shelton and his opinion about opening up a second high school. In other districts football coaches have been known to oppose new high schools out of a fear of dividing up athletic talent. I knew coach Shelton because we both volunteered on the board of the North Hays Optimist Club. One day I asked him, and he said, “John, I’m not going to be one to object to a second high school. Right now, I have three boys to a locker for freshman football. The second high school is needed.”
As we moved closer to the time of the sale, Mr. Lehman, decided that he would make a donation of a part of the land. The site ended up being a total of 53.46 acres.
The Lehman High School campus opened in 2004 with 960 students in grades 8 through 10. The school was named after the family of Ted Lehman. Today a 455 seniors will walk the stage to graduate from Lehman.
Growing from small farming communities to suburban ones has at times been hard for Buda and Kyle. But the great efforts of our people helped move us forward in 2001 and again now as we look forward to the opening the district’s 3rd high school. More people may come, but I have faith that the people of Hays County will always do what it takes for the next generation.