Highland Park ISD is bursting at the seams, and the board of trustees is struggling to find one more notch on the belt.
On Monday, the board had its latest facilities workshop with SHW Group Inc., a Plano-based architectural firm hired by HPISD to figure out how to accommodate a growing student population in a landlocked district.
Priorities and potential solutions have been thrown around for months, but in some ways became a little bit clearer on Monday.
Of course, the path to creating a master plan for the future starts with a bond election, which could happen as soon as May 2015. But how much the bond issue will cost voters, and what will be included, is still very much up for debate.
We’ll go into some more detailed scenarios later, including cost and construction estimates, but I’ll do my best to summarize a few key points after the jump.
1. Elementary schools
About 39 percent of HPISD’s students currently are in grades kindergarten through four, at one of four campuses that are already crowded. With more growth projected, a fifth elementary campus seems like an obvious solution.
The fifth elementary school could allow the attendance lines to be redrawn immediately after its opening, or it could function as a relief campus during the first four years while the other elementary schools are being either renovated or rebuilt, one at a time.
Of course, the biggest issue with this, as has been mentioned previously, is finding land to build such a school. It could be a three-level structure — which has been a common theme during talks of renovation district-wide — that would help in case the land is tight, according to Jonathan Aldis of SHW.
Another option under discussion is a new centralized kindergarten campus, which also could increase the district’s overall student capacity and could also function as a relief campus. But again, land acquisition would be tricky, and doubly difficult if a new elementary school is built as well.
2. Intermediate/middle school
As with most other facilities, there’s not much room for outward expansion at McCulloch Intermediate School and Highland Park Middle School. So the best chances at creating more room are to build up or down.
Aldis suggested the district look at adding a third floor of classroom and support space at MIS and HPMS, while adding an underground parking structure beneath the athletic fields to avoid losing green space.
3. Highland Park High School
Several options are on the table here. What trustees seemed to agree upon was an addition to the northwest corner of the existing building, located above the existing parking lot. The space could be used for a much-needed expansion of fine arts and music programs (a new band hall, for instance) without eliminating much parking. As a bonus, the reconfigured parking lot would be covered.
Also likely is a proposed relocation of the Seay Tennis Center, which currently is located across from Highlander Stadium and adjacent to the indoor practice facility. Aldis suggests the district construct a new, slightly smaller indoor tennis facility east of the parking garage, across the driveway from the school’s outdoor tennis courts. That would free up the space for an athletic complex of sorts, with office space and team space for various sports — along with a training room and weight room — that currently is cramped under the home bleachers of the stadium.
Longer-term options include the relocation of either the school’s natatorium or the stadium itself, either of which would then be rebuilt off-campus. But those would require even more land, not to mention more money.
Stay tuned, because we haven’t even mentioned money yet. But get ready for an influx of construction cranes coming soon to your neighborhood school.