Cleveland ISD awards bid for new elementary and middle school in Grand San Jacinto community

The still-unnamed Middle School No. 5 for Cleveland ISD will be ready for students in the fall of 2022. It is being built in the Grand San Jacinto neighborhood south of Plum Grove.

Cleveland ISD’s Board of Trustees awarded a bid to Pogue Construction at a special meeting on Thursday, Feb. 11, for construction of a new elementary campus and new middle school campus in the Grand San Jacinto community south of Plum Grove. While the District had set aside $110 million of a $198 million bond that was approved by voters in November 2019, the District achieved enough cost-savings to squeeze in construction of a new Northside Elementary campus in Cleveland. The new Northside campus is being built on FM 2025 near Baldwin Park.

Construction of the new elementary, which is temporarily being called Elementary No. 6, and the Middle School No. 2 campus come at a cost of $72.4 million. With soft costs added in, the turnkey project should top out at $92 million, which is $18 million less than previously projected. The District says it cut costs by using prototype designs provided by Huckabee, Inc., a Texas-based architect firm that also designed Cleveland ISD’s Elementary No. 5, which also is under construction in the Grand San Jacinto community.

Trotter is pleased that the bids came in much lower than planned.

“It’s a great day. We are excited that we are bringing a good project to the community,” said Superintendent Chris Trotter. “We are bringing it in at the right price and are saving tax dollars. The tough part of these projects is making sure we utilize the dollars wisely with no wasteful spending. All of this is being spent appropriately for the children of the District.”

Board President Kelly Axton agreed, adding, “Mr. Trotter and his team have established best practices and expectations for the District’s construction needs, and the bids we received are a clear reflection of this. Cleveland ISD prides itself on being good stewards of the community’s tax dollars while still providing safe and secure facilities for our students and staff.”

After a special-called meeting on Feb. 11, where a bid was awarded to Pogue Construction for a new elementary campus and middle school campus in the Grand San Jacinto community south of Plum Grove, Cleveland ISD Superintendent Chris Trotter (third from left) and Board President Kelly Axton gathered with the principal parties involved in the construction. Pictured left to right are Scotty Lewis with Lockwood, Andrews and Newnam Inc.; Steve Aloway with Huckabee, Inc.; Trotter; Axton; Brandon Wilson with Pogue Construction; Bob Bedrich with Pogue Construction; and Devin Wilson with Huckabee, Inc.

The new two-story, 230,000 square-foot middle school is based on Huckabee’s design for Oak Hills Junior High in Montgomery, Texas. It features a performance gym, practice gym, cafetorium, band hall, choir hall, black box theater, dance rooms, ROTC room, robotics room, areas for Career and Technology Education classes and computer classes. It will accommodate 1,600 students.

“It’s similar to the design of our current high school,” Trotter said.

This aerial rendering shows how closely connected the new elementary and middle school campuses will be in the Grand San Jacinto community south of Plum Grove.

The middle school and Elementary No. 6 will be located on a portion of the same 145-acre tract that the District purchased from Lanier Timber Company. The property was landlocked, meaning that it had no road access, but Colony Ridge Land LLC has built a wide boulevard leading to the property from its streets.

Elementary No. 6 is similar in design to Southside Elementary, said Trotter, except that it is a two-story, 130,000 square-foot campus capable of comfortably accommodating 1,000 students.

Groundbreaking for the two new schools should take place within the next two weeks, said Trotter, weather permitting.

Both campuses will be finished by the summer of 2022 and ready for students that fall. Elementary No. 5 will be ready in the summer of 2021 and open for students in the fall. All three campuses will be named by April 2021.

Once the new campuses come online, Trotter said the District will need to redraw its boundaries and attendance zones and make adjustments as needed.

“We will work with our demographer, Templeton Demographics, to look at how many children we need to put in these schools and how growth is changing each year,” he said. “There will be a rezoning that will occur every spring for at least the next four years.”

The District already is eyeing future plans for a transportation center to house and maintenance school buses that will serve the campuses in the Plum Grove area.

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