Is This the Future of Your Child’s School?

Bradfield_1stLook-10-7-15 Hyer_1stLook-10-7-15 UPES-1stLook-10-7-15

Highland Park ISD provided a vision for what its future might look like on Wednesday with the release of architectural sketches related to its $361 million bond proposal.

Read more details after the jump, and let us know what you think.

Under the plan, which will be decided upon by voters on Nov. 3, three of the four elementary schools within the district — including Bradfield, Hyer, and University Park — would be razed and rebuilt during the next several years. They would be joined by a new elementary school adjacent to Northway Christian Church and a renovated Armstrong campus to help relieve overcrowding.

There would also be extensive projects slated for the district’s two secondary campuses, as well, but the ambitious concept for rebuilding the elementary schools — each of which have been around since at least 1949 — has drawn the most skepticism and interest from taxpayers.

The sketches from district architect Stantec Inc. show possibilities for the exterior design of the front of the three rebuilt schools. Each would be two stories, with an underground parking garage and plenty of technological enhancements.

Stantec’s Jonathan Aldis said many factors went into the preliminary designs, including the desire for each new building to incorporate elements of its history into the new structure.

“The goal is an innovative space for students that also honors the history of the school and the expectations of the community,” Aldis said. “This is not about wiping things out and starting again. The history needs to be honored going forward.”

This summer, the district assembled a separate design team for each elementary campus, comprised of community volunteers, to provide input. It’s important to note that the sketches released Wednesday are not final, but simply ideas.

The most eye-opening proposals come at Hyer and University Park. In the case of UP, Aldis suggests going away from its traditional Spanish Colonial influences in favor of a red-brick design, saying it fits a building that is a symbol of the community that stands adjacent to one of its most popular parks.

“It’s a departure. We’re trying to capture more of the spirit of the immediate area,” he said. “The aesthetic history doesn’t all get thrown away.”

At Hyer, the quaint single-story look and 300-foot front façade would be gone, but the iconic entry sign would almost certainly remain. There would be more lawn space in front of the Georgian-style design, with gables to try and disguise some of the added height to the structure.

“I think seeing Hyer at two stories — everyone might need to look at it for a second,” Aldis said. “But it’s still very much a part of the neighborhood and has some familiarity to it.”

The sketch for Bradfield seems to incorporate the fewest changes from its existing Spanish Colonial design, which offers a nod to the iconic Highland Park Village shopping center down the street. Again, it could incorporate certain popular aspects of the existing structure, such as the entryway, in a way that best serves the surrounding area, Aldis said.

“We’re not looking to replicate,” he said. “We didn’t want to wind up with three schools that look the same. The neighborhood plays an important part.”

There aren’t any sketches yet for the proposed fifth elementary school, which would be constructed before any of the existing schools are torn down, then used as a relief campus during construction at Bradfield, Hyer, and UP, in an order to be determined.

Aldis said there’s still plenty of site planning to be done for the new school, if it passes. The design of the underground parking garages at each campus hasn’t been finalized, and a project management structure hasn’t been determined.

District officials said the design process would be expedited once the bond funding becomes available, if the constituents approve. But they stressed the desire for public participation.

“These aren’t going to be cookie-cutter schools,” said HPISD superintendent Tom Trigg. “These are very strong examples of what they might look like. It’s a starting point for our community.”

16 thoughts on “Is This the Future of Your Child’s School?

  • October 7, 2015 at 4:42 pm

    Weren’t the school cafeterias redone about 5 years ago? Weren’t most of the schools added onto about 5 years ago to get rid of the portables? So, raze the schools, start over and not care about the money that was put into them 5-7 years ago? Not sure I can support this…..sounds like a waste of money on so many different levels.

  • October 7, 2015 at 5:11 pm

    While beautiful , this makes it all seem Very real and actually makes my stomach ache a bit. I cannot understand underground parking in residential neighborhoods. We must be good stewards of our schools. It’s ok to say Whoa.

  • October 8, 2015 at 9:36 am

    HPISD’s website details how the 2008 bond was used.

    All cafeterias were expanded and classrooms were added at the elementary schools in order to not have portables. The bond was over $75 million and now we are talking about tearing down tens of millions of dollars of improvements that we haven’t even come close to paying for.

    • October 8, 2015 at 12:22 pm

      Amen on the aboves. Just ban renting in the Park Cities. The schools just got a lot less crowded…..

      • October 9, 2015 at 1:26 pm

        Banning renting is as ridiculous as calling for a ban on families with more than 2 kids. Neither will ever happen. How about something constructive?

        • October 11, 2015 at 9:17 pm

          Of course banning rentals will never happen. I’m no lawyer but It’s probably unconstitutional and of course the landlords would raise heck about it.

          On a more constructive note, how about passing a Park Cities law where by only property owners/Park Cities school tax payers are allowed to school here?

        • October 16, 2015 at 4:26 pm

          How about adding birth control to the water supply? I don’t care about this bond debate. I’m just tired of huge houses being built on tiny lots (with 5 kids crammed inside) and the construction mess. Add in the landscapers blowing dust all over town and I can’t keep my car clean. I’m also sick of people parking on the both sides of the side streets and the bimbos in huge SUVs plowing down the streets.

    • October 8, 2015 at 2:32 pm

      Thank you saynotothebond for posting the last bond summary…. I had been looking for what all it had done- we move here during the tail end of cafe construction. I agree a new plan is needed not ruining all that has been done for these updated viable schools. So glad you posted it for us all to see. Use the money wisely- rebuilding/or major renovation of HPHS. Use entoment domaine and build a large Maybe a 9th grade campus at the high school. adding into MIS/HPMS because of the overcrowded classes my own daughter is in classes with 30+ kids in them in 6th grade & build a new 5th elementary. Those are the issues that need to be addressed! NO to this $360 million dollar plan where 3/4th’s of the money doesn’t even address the issues at hand.

  • October 11, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    Why did the Board just post this morning, at 7:30AM, a “called meeting” for Weds. at 7:30AM between City of Dallas, UP and HP? Why the urgency, and why at 7:30 AM, when Board knows few people can attend at that time?

    • October 13, 2015 at 10:39 am

      The HPISD Board of Trustees has traditionally held a called meeting in the fall with the City of Dallas, City of UP, and Town of HP. The annual meetings have been held at 7:30 a.m. since at least 2010. The meeting provides HPISD officials an opportunity to discuss school district matters with local city officials.

      Source: HPISD BoardBook:

  • October 12, 2015 at 11:13 am

    When you allow the same politicians to craft what happens in the Park Cities, don’t act surprised. The problem is the same stodgy politicians who have the handicap of no foresight, and hiding in the same old cobweb box of “Mayberry.”

    Please don’t blame renters. Some folks have legitimate reasons for renting. Blame your local Park Cities politicians who have for years placed the financial burden back onto the taxpayers as usual. Are you really surprised at the huge bond plea? I’m surprised they didn’t go for a billion dollars.

    Look at HP Town Hall and the wasted millions on useless dead space, but looped the town residents for millions because our town council are not really business people, they just put on the pretty suit and play business at taxpayers expense. And how about the crazy HPDPS information room that also serves as a hallway to the main HP town building. Gosh….what nut approved that?

    The bond deal is simply another form of ripping taxpayers off by dodo birds who need to learn how to craft better business deals. What do you really expect when you have folks who have never understood anything but spending other peoples money? Get some real entrepreneurs and investors working on this deal.

    Moreover, when you have someone like Mayor Joel Williams, III of Highland Park, Texas back in 2012 Mayoral election stating there are no demographic issues in HP to the Dallas Morning News, it just makes one wonder what land some folks live in.

    New schools are great, we need to compete, but there needs to be a point in time in our towns when folks (the ones who actually pay property taxes) tell these morons who run the town to get lost and get a real job.

    My opinions. Just could not say the above any other way. Have a great day!

  • October 13, 2015 at 10:24 am

    Highland Park’s complete and total justification for this massive $361 million
    bond is the projected demographics. We peons were told over and over, “We must trust the demographers…trust….trust….trust.” We now know the demographers could not even be trusted for a SINGLE YEAR

    Highland Park enrollment is DOWN this year over last.


    2014 – 7,092

    2015 – 7,063

    • October 13, 2015 at 10:54 pm

      Can someone please update us on the $100mm slush fund that is in bedded in the $361mm Bond? Could not make it to the UP Library meeting tonight where I heard they were going over it. Thanks

  • October 14, 2015 at 3:15 pm

    The Board says we must do this now while interest rates are low. Yet surely the Board isn’t going to foolishly borrow $363 million dollars all at once and pay interest on money they don’t yet need; instead, the bonds will be rolled out for sale in separate waves. But interest rates now may be very different than rates in the future, when the Board issues the next tranch of bonds. Those future interest rates — presently unknown — bear directly upon our property tax rates.

    Nonetheless, when asked if the property tax projections were based on the entire $363 MILLION, the Board (through its FAC arm) claimed it didn’t know. When asked whether the rate on our bonds would be floating or fixed, the Board didn’t know. When asked WHAT the interest rate would be, the Board claimed it didn’t know. Nor can the Board assume property values will remain stable. If our values go down, they will simply raise the tax rates even higher to service this debt.

    Obviously, there is NO possible way the Board can even begin to project the increase in property taxes for any homeowner. For the Board to do so is deceptive; indeed it is malfeasance. (Notice that in the promotional materials, the alleged property tax increase is limited to years 2017-2018). And how many years will it take for us to pay off this massive bond? The Board claims it doesn’t know.

    Don’t bother to ask which historical elementary school — just renovated from the $75M bond, to add more classrooms, a new cafeteria, and technology updates — will be the first to fall. The Board claims it doesn’t know. Where will the new lines be drawn once this 5th elementary is built? The Board claims it doesn’t know.

    Try selling a house now served by Hyer when the new buyers asks when and where their children will attend elementary school. Honey Badger don’t care.

    Also, putting the higher taxes just for the bond aside, how much can all of us — INCLUDING SENIORS — expect to pay in higher property taxes, to augment teacher and staff salaries? Yes, Seniors are exempted from paying back the bond. But none of us — including Seniors — are shielded from regular property tax increases. Perhaps this explains why the Board has done little, if any, outreach to people in the community who don’t have children attending schools in the district. The Board doesn’t want roughly 2/3 of our community to even know about this bond, much less vote on it.

    Other than wanting an insane amount of money with carte blanch authority, and no accountability, to spend as they see fit, what DOES the Board know? (Other than: “if you like your school, you can’t keep it” and: “you have to pass the bond to find out what’s in it.”)

    And there’s no point in asking who the tolerant and inclusive residents are around here, the ones who are stealing the “Vote No” signs. Honey Badger don’t care.

    Finally, the renderings for the three elementary schools are so over the top, it’s truly mortifying. They are so gauche, even Liberacci would blush. What will the fifth one — the FIRST elementary to be built — look like? Don’t ask the Board. Honey Badger don’t care.

  • October 15, 2015 at 8:02 am

    Too common of “ignorance” when anyone, including the HPISD trustees (or their representatives ) say to taxpayers this bond deal must be done when rates are low. Personally, I would burst out laughing at such stupidity. It just confirms the financial ignorance of what I believe is the “community league(s)” justification of a questionable bond issuance.

    Light bulb:…….Debt is DEBT, no matter what the interest rate is….you and your kids and their kids and their kids and their kids ………will have to pay the money back. That’s finance 101.

    It is sad that residents allow a few to really flush the reputation of the Park Cities. Just like HP Town Hall, millions on top of millions of wasted taxpayer money. Big building requires the feeding from more taxpayer money. Same with the bonds.

    Let’s take Flippen Park as another example. How can any sane person in HP administration or HP Town Council claim this is a model for water preservation when you have a massive water fountain using thousands of water directly on the other side of the park (recycled or not)?

    Bless your bond loving hearts.


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