It’s a frantic race to the finish for the construction crews wrapping up new campuses within Cleveland ISD.
On Wednesday, ribbon cutting ceremonies were held for Santa Fe Elementary and Santa Fe Middle School – two of the four campuses the District is opening this school year – even while contractors installed turf, fencing and door glass. On Friday morning, Cleveland ISD will hold similar ceremonies for the new Northside Elementary and the Cleveland Ninth Grade Campus (the former Northside Elementary campus).
At Santa Fe Elementary, the new campus’s fire alarm was tested, which made for an interesting welcome for the 20 or so guests in attendance on Wednesday.
“We all know the fire alarm works,” joked Cleveland ISD Superintendent Stephen McCanless in his opening remarks. “The construction crew has worked really hard to make sure this campus is ready for Aug. 10 because the kids are coming. They will be here.”
Stacey Baughn-Hunt is the principal for the new Santa Fe Elementary campus, located in the Colony Ridge communities south of Plum Grove. She was picked for the position in December and recalled watching as the project evolved from a dusty and dirty construction site to a beautifully-constructed campus. She regularly sat in on construction meetings to make sure that all the finishing touches were to the best advantage for students and staff.
Josh McDonald is the principal for the new Santa Fe Middle School, a transfer from Cleveland Middle School where McCanless said McDonald ignited a fire in students and staff with his contagious energy.
“That’s the kind of energy we want our students to be molded by,” McCanless said of McDonald.
The new campuses will be a departure from Cleveland ISD’s traditional red and white colors, and Indian mascot. They instead will use maroon and gray, and have a Jaguar mascot. McCanless said he is looking forward to the two middle schools competing in sports.
Both campuses are located on the 7400 block of CR 3540 in the Santa Fe community of Colony Ridge, south of Plum Grove. Both were built by Pogue Construction, using plans designed by Huckabee Architects with Lockwood, Andrews and Newnam, Inc. (LAN) serving as the construction manager.
Santa Fe Elementary uses the same blueprints as Pine Burr Elementary, located nearby on the 7000 block of CR 3540 in the San Jacinto community of Colony Ridge. Like Pine Burr Elementary, Santa Fe Elementary will accommodate 1,100 students. It is a two-story, 130,000 square-foot structure that includes a cafetorium, gym, black box theater and band hall.
Santa Fe Middle School uses a new design style and will accommodate 1,600 students. It has all the same features as the elementary campuses, along with a gym to accommodate sports events.
The two campuses are being funded through a portion of a $198 million, “zero tax rate increase” bond that was approved by voters in 2019. The bond also funded construction of a new Northside Elementary campus on FM 2025 and improvements to the softball and baseball fields at Cleveland High School.