Construction is booming everywhere in the Park Cities, which is a sign of growth. More families are moving here, and one of the major draws is our excellent school system.
We welcome our new students and families, and we must plan for the future. Highland Park ISD set a new enrollment record of more than 7,000 students this year, which was discussed in detail in Finance Officer Joe Taylor's recent column
. This growth puts a strain on our facilities, so we are taking a close look at our existing buildings and visiting with principals, parents and community members. We are also bringing in outside experts, including architects and demographers, to help us plan wisely.
At last week's School Board meeting, we began a dialogue about what will eventually be HPISD's master facilities plan. It includes classroom additions at all campuses, and also looks at ideas for repurposing existing facilities. The Dallas Morning News
reporter Melissa Repko wrote a thorough and informative article
on the subject.
HPISD is a landlocked and fully developed area, so unlike other districts that can purchase land for new campuses, we must consider other options. One of those includes adding onto our existing campuses. Another is building an early childhood center for kindergarten and students in the Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities (PPCD), which would free up six classrooms at each of our elementary campuses.
At McCulloch Intermediate and Highland Park Middle School, we are wrapping up construction on an expanded cafeteria and kitchen area to accommodate the steady growth. In addition, we have finished out three classrooms from space that was added to the third floor in the 2008 bond issue in anticipation of the need we are facing today. These improvements were paid for with capital projects funds that were set aside by the School Board in 2011 for immediate needs.
At Highland Park High School, classrooms are filling up, and space is tight in extracurricular areas such as the band hall, which has been doubling as a meeting room. The campus has been added onto over the years, and even with recent improvements and expansions, it continues to run at maximum capacity.
During last week's meeting, we heard many ideas from PTA leaders in the audience, and we want to hear your ideas, too. Please email us with your feedback at email@example.com
As we move forward with our planning, we will keep you involved and informed.
Thanks for your partnership!Kelly Walker was elected to the HPISD Board of Trustees in 2010, and she chairs the Facilities Committee. This is the second in a series of columns that will be published this school year to keep the community informed. If you have questions about this column or suggestions for future columns, please contact me or email HPISD Communications Director Helen Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.