December 13, 2021
I would like to catch you up on where we are this year and where we are with planning for the 2022-2023 school year. Although we have had success this year, it has been a difficult road to maintain consistency and that became very apparent at the start of this school year. However, I am pleased to say that we have weathered the storms and appear to have a genuine sense that we are just now getting back to what school was before Covid despite the multiple distractions we have faced. Our staff has done a phenomenal job of working to fill gaps for students and meet the requirements of House Bill 4545 as well as the multiple requirements that have come down from the Texas Education Agency as a result of the late legislative special sessions.
I will start with a recap of our Future Planning and Development community meetings we conducted last spring where we discussed our current facilities, our grade distributions, and future impacts. In these Four meetings, we addressed the fact that we are now required to offer full-day pre-k to students who qualify as well as spatial concerns within our current buildings. We chose to move ahead with the state requirement and made space for full-day pre-k this year at Delaney. Our other concern is that we have 14 housing developments currently under development and potentially, there could be more. There are currently approximately 1200 new housing units under development, of which many will be completed before next year. With projections from 10% to 20% student increase based on these units, we could potentially see an increase in students between 120-240 for the next few years.
Our spaces at both Delaney and Patterson have become strained, to say the least, and with the potential for that many more students coming into the district, we needed a proactive approach. We evaluated our capacities and square footage at each campus with the help of Owner’s Builders Resource and through a demographics study conducted by UT Arlington’s City and Regional Planning department. Through these studies, we looked at our utilization of current spaces and how we could shift our grade levels to accommodate future growth, or was there a need for additional construction for new campuses or additions.
From our Future Planning and Development meetings, it was decided to shift 6th grade to the Junior High and move 5th grade back to Patterson and Delaney. This would allow us space to move pre-k, kindergarten, and 1st grade to Arthur and take advantage of the classroom spaces. Additionally, this will allow us to create an Early Childhood Center focused on experiential learning and to address requirements from the Texas Legislature and the Texas Education Agency. In looking at all options, we assessed the status of the old pre-k wing in the Curriculum and Student Services building. We assessed that it would require more to bring that building up to code than it was worth. Therefore, it was decided to demolish this wing and create space to address parking and traffic concerns at Delaney as well as a Central Distribution Center and warehouse for the district in the old gym. This is something our district needs. The demolition of this wing was completed over the Thanksgiving break.
Following the community meetings, a recommendation was made to the Board of Trustees by community meeting members to shift the grade levels as previously detailed and renovate Arthur to accommodate the Early Childhood Center. The Board of Trustees then authorized the solicitation of qualifications from architectural firms and the architectural firm Huckabee was chosen by the board from twelve firms. The architects at Huckabee have been developing a timeline and the scope of the project. They will be conducting a meeting on the 6th of January at 6:00 in the Media Center for community members who would like to attend to see the scope, budget, timelines, and general concepts.
To facilitate the changes we are going through, we have had multiple planning meetings at the Junior High in preparations for the 6th grade to transition to that campus for the next school year. By moving 6thgrade to Junior High, those students will have access to programs such as band, choir, and pre-athletics in an environment conducive to facilitating these activities and providing an introduction to our students of those programs. This planning involves scheduling, start and end times, transportation schedules, and staffing needs. Our administrators have also visited another district that recently underwent the same transition.
We are also planning on moving the 5th grade to the two elementary campuses. To facilitate this, we will need to create space on those campuses by moving the pre-k and kindergarten students off of those campuses next year. This will require some modifications of restroom areas on all three of these campuses. Based on the timeline by the architects and the progress on the renovations to the older portion of Arthur, we may be leaving the 1st grade at the two elementary for one more year. This will require that the two-story portion of Arthur be ready over the summer to ensure that the pre-k and kindergarten are accommodated.
This summer will be extremely busy with multiple moves and to have these moves lined out, we will have all staffing decisions finalized by the end of March and the beginning of April. To help with all of the moves and transitions this summer, we will conduct all summer school at the High School, the only campus that will not have a transition.
I hope this information helps and I hope you all have a blessed holiday season.