Cleveland ISD broke ground on a new high school wing and elementary campus on Monday, Oct. 29. District officials hope the two projects will ease some of the overcrowding.
Over the past few years, as enrollment numbers quickly jumped to the current figure of 6,500 students, portable buildings began to serve as temporary classrooms at campuses all across the district. If enrollment continues to trend upward, the portable buildings will still be needed.
The new $28 million elementary campus is being built on a 30-acre property in the Santa Fe Subdivision south of Plum Grove. It will have a similar footprint to Southside Elementary in Cleveland and plenty of land will still be available for a future middle school campus.
“There will be another middle school in Cleveland at such time that our residents vote to build another campus,” said Cleveland ISD Superintendent Dr. Darrell Myers. “For a new high school we will need about 100 acres. It takes a property that size by the time you get the building, parking, career and technology classrooms, cafeteria, band hall and fields for athletics.”
The district’s current high school on Houston Street, where the district is building a new $33 million wing on the west side of the building, is landlocked with very little room to grow. The new wing is being erected in an area previously used for student parking. A new parking lot, closer to Houston Street, will open up in the next few days.
“Then Sedaldo, our construction manager, will start demolishing the old parking lot and building the foundation for the new high school wing,” Myers said.
The new 122,000-square-foot wing will be predominantly classrooms. An elevator and stairs will provide access to the second floor. The district is restructuring some of its existing high school for laboratories, mainly in the Career and Technology Education area.
“We will also have a criminal justice classroom in the old wing,” Myers said.
Myers said the only available area left to use for an expansion at the high school are the softball and baseball fields, which is sure to be an unpopular idea for many in the district. A new high school could eliminate the need for further expansions of the existing high school.
“If we want to follow what Frisco ISD has done, they have tried to keep their schools to the size of a large 4A. They do that to help their kids be able to participate in school sports, clubs and activities,” Myers said. “It limits participation to have a larger 5A school. It’s a matter of philosophy. I can assure you what’s best for kids is to keep the schools smaller so more of them can be involved.”
The major disadvantage to having two high schools would be the need to essentially duplicate everything – sports teams and coaching staff, band hall and instructors, career and technology labs and instructors, ROTC programs and instructors, stadium and sports fields.
“There is no doubt that building campuses in areas where we see the most growth is beneficial for the kids. Instead of 30 minutes to get to school, it’s less than 15 minutes,” Myers said. “When we put in this new elementary, and as the neighborhood grows around it, I believe we will see a lot of kids walking or riding their bikes to school. Neighborhood schools are always a good concept.”
Neighborhood schools are more likely to enjoy parental participation as well because of their convenience, he said.
NEW SERVICE CENTER TO BE READY BY SUMMER 2019
The new Cleveland ISD Service Center, located on Plum Grove Road north of the SH 105 Bypass, is on schedule and budget.
“I just came back from a construction meeting there,” Myers said Wednesday afternoon. “I am really pleased with that project. I guarantee you that our folks in the police department, transportation and maintenance and operations are going to be pleased when they are all under the same roof.”
The new service center is on a property large enough to store all of the district’s 70 school buses. Currently, the district is having to park buses on its current bus barn behind Cleveland High School and behind locked fences at campuses. It is not an ideal situation, Myers said.
“Our little bus barn is overtaxed right now. Having buses at other campuses is not convenient especially if you need a temporary or replacement bus,” he said. “We want to have all our equipment stored under one fence for security purposes. We are looking forward to that at around the end of June or maybe the first of July. That’s how the project is tracking right now.”
NEW ADMIN BUILDING COSTS BEING ASSESSED
In June 2018, Cleveland ISD’s board of trustees approved the $650,000 purchase of the old Campbell Concrete offices at 105 E. Boothe St.
The 18,000-square-foot building is three times the size of the current administration building at 316 E. Dallas St., on the same property as Southside Elementary.
Myers is working with architects and Sedalco construction regarding the scope of work needed for the building.
“They are putting together a price tag to present to the board. The board will then decide what it wants to do and what they think should be put off for later,” he said. “Our calendar for that project got pushed back because one of the desires is to have the boardroom in that complex. It’s just a matter of how we want to go about doing that.”
The new boardroom would encompass several rooms in the building, so load-bearing walls, beams and foundation limits are being factored in.
“Other than the boardroom and some electrical work that is needed on the building, the rest of the work is superficial – facia board replacement, interior and exterior painting and lighting. It won’t be a long and drawn-out project,” he said. “The main thing is to get the boardroom right and get these other things done.”
The new administration building will house administrators, such as superintendent, assistant superintendents, human resources, support staff and the technology department.
“We have recognized a need for in-house special education, so we will have those diagnosticians and people associated with that program in the new building as well,” Myers said.
Once the old administration building is vacated, it will be renovated to create more classrooms for the Southside Elementary Campus, which is well beyond its capacity as a 1,000-student campus.
By Vanesa Brashier, firstname.lastname@example.org