Cafeteria is Another Symbol of HPISD’s Growth

Seems plans are finally gelling for a more than $2 million cafeteria expansion at Highland Park Middle School. Given the option to approve more elaborate facilities — ones with new classrooms alongside the yet-to-be-remodeled dining space —  trustees instead voted conservatively Tuesday, opting to save any add-ons for later.

Their “authorization to proceed with schematic design,” wonky as it sounds, is an early step in a process that will require official renderings, financing, contract bids, permits, construction, and finally — at the end of the proverbial lunch line — a much bigger eating space for kiddos as soon as next fall.

Confession: the thought of a remodeled school cafeteria (or a dated one, or even one staffed with a fleet of tiny robots) didn’t sound so newsy to me when I first heard about this project back in February. Then I caught wind of the cost, and the fact that the current space was build to seat about 400 tray-balancing kids — and now nearly 600 are squeezing in at peak times. Calls to mind an oversized version of Tetris, only the pieces are lunch tables that never disappear.

Renderings aren’t ready yet from the architects at SHW Group, but we’ll keep you posted.

9 thoughts on “Cafeteria is Another Symbol of HPISD’s Growth

  • October 18, 2012 at 10:11 am
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    I am really glad they are opting to be conservative, although 2 million is still hefty. My concerns are twofold: The elimination of the light and greenspace in the courtyard (many kids escape the hubbub and pressures of middle school by eating outdoors) and the numbers. Currently, the largest class is 580. Projections never reach more than 612 per lunch period (in 2018)

    Remodels and updates definitely need to be made in the kitchen – the staff works so hard with very little. Hope the district engages the HPMS teachers, parents and students, keeping the end user preferences in mind. Creative minds can come up with creative solutions while preserving green space. Once you build you will never get it back.

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  • October 18, 2012 at 2:22 pm
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    I wish they would take the space on the south side of the cafeteria where the dumpsters are before they take the green space on the northside. Any chance they can move the supply store and make that area quickdraw? THat would allow for several more tables without taking the green space to the north.

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  • October 18, 2012 at 3:17 pm
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    No idea what the financials would look like, or how it would get done (bond election?), but I’d like to see HPISD acquire the strip of properties on Normandy Ave. across from the school. Currently, most are either vacant, already razed, or for sale.

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  • October 18, 2012 at 9:15 pm
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    Keep in mind the potentially large number of kids joining HPISD from the apartments going in on the east side of Central Expressway (Cafe Brazil spot) and maybe we should be less conservative in our projections. The idea of portables returning to the elementary schools next year really is frustrating, and that’s before the new apartments.

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  • October 18, 2012 at 9:17 pm
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    Britt- It should be noted that while that complex is in University Park, it’s not technically in HPISD. Any students in that building would attend DISD.

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  • October 18, 2012 at 9:31 pm
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    Great idea about moving quick draw. The supply shop could be anywhere – even a mobile cart if needed.

    I saw about 40 kids eating very happily outside yesterday.

    Anon,what would you put way over on Normandy?

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  • October 19, 2012 at 7:49 am
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    @HW, I’m sure there are no limits to ideas that the community could come up, but when adjacent land is actually available, then I think the school should at least think about acquiring it. I would work with the city to acquire Normandy itself as well on that specific block. A couple of ideas: a garden/science lab …. or eventually shifting the entire playing field, allowing for building growth … tennis/basketball courts, freeing up the existing courts for building growth.

    Since we’re thinking out loud here, have the City of UP acquire that strip with non-Robin Hood dollars. Share the new “park” with the schools, ala Germany Park.

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  • February 4, 2013 at 3:18 pm
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    Any updates? Have the press gotten any schematics yet? What’s the timetable???

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