District to vote on bond, considers plans for extensive renovations

Following two years of debate and preparation, a proposed $89.5 million bond to revamp EISD campuses and facilities in the next three to five years is up for a vote on May 10.

The bond money will provide for district improvements in a range of priority projects that parents, students, faculty and outside consultants, Cuningham Group Architecture, have been discussing since 2012. The Facilities Master Plan, a 10-year roadmap for district renovations, is the result of that collaboration. According to the Master Plan Vision Statement, updates to school spaces will make them “forward thinking, flexible and adaptable for relevant, meaningful and personalized learning,” moving classes in a more modern direction.

“A 21st century classroom, for me, allows the teachers and all of the students to work outside the classroom, but with all the classroom materials,” sophomore Akshay Prakash said.

The most costly bond item – taking up $38 million in funds – is the construction of a new elementary school on the west side of the district to serve students in the northwest zone, many of whom currently commute to Valley View, located at the center of the district. The proposed new site would curtail traffic and transportation issues and increase neighborhood involvement. At the middle school level, the Master Plan includes provisions for new Fine Arts facilities.

“In middle school we would always have to come to Westlake if we wanted to do anything on a stage,” freshman choir and theater student Lexy Connolly said. “That would be difficult when we wanted to practice, because we could never practice at West Ridge. The first time we would ever be on stage was performance night. It would be cool if middle schoolers had better places to work.”

Major construction at the high school will include connecting bridges between second and third floor hallways in the ninth grade center and main campus, upgrades that will minimize congestion between classes.

“It would be good to have a bridge connecting the language hall to the freshman center so that I’m not late to classes and my teachers don’t get mad at me,” freshman Julie Brown said. “It would be easier to get around, so that you don’t have to fight through hallways and the upperclassmen.”

Additionally, the establishment of a Multi-Purpose Facility for maintenance, transportation and storage on the Shriner site on Westbank Drive will consolidate district activities in one location, removed from school campuses. Further bond funding will be used for technology updates and campus renovations.

“Let’s get one of those moving sidewalks, a 21st century bridge,” junior Hunter Hinton said. “Congestion solved.”