School Bond 2013 Progress Update

Campuses to Start Next School Year Renovated and Ready to Go
Travis 6th Grade Campus Rendering

May 27, 2014 – With summer break in sight, construction projects in Amarillo ISD are picking up the pace to finish work while students and staff are away. More than half of the schools in the district will start next school year with additional classrooms, more secure entrances, and/or new HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) equipment thanks to a bond election passed by Amarillo voters in May 2013.

The $99.45 million school bond issue is funding a major program of facility and security improvements, renovations, additions and new construction to meet the needs of a student population which has grown by more than 3,000 students in six years.

By the start of the 2014-2015 school year, many bond projects will be complete, several will be nearing completion, and all projects, with the exception of a new elementary school in the Caprock cluster, will be on track to be completed by the 2016-17 school year. Though planned for in the 2013 bond election, a new elementary school near Caprock will not be built until the student population justifies it by reaching 250-300 students.   

Construction began this May on two new 6th grade campuses, one for Bowie Middle School and one for Travis Middle School. Design teams of principals and cluster directors, as well as representatives from nursing, fine arts, special education, library and food service departments, met with architects throughout the school year to design these campuses with an eye on meeting the unique needs of 6th graders.  

Officially named Bowie 6th Grade Campus and Travis 6th Grade Campus, both schools are slated to be ready for the 2015-16 school year; together the two will cost about $28.6 million to build and furnish.  AISD was able to purchase land across NE 24th Street for the Travis 6th Grade Campus, and a land purchase in addition to a generous donation from the Mary E. Bivins Foundation gave the district the acreage it needed for the Bowie 6th Grade Campus.  

Bowie and Travis are currently the district’s two largest middle schools. The 6th grade campuses will help relieve overcrowding and create a better environment for student learning at both the 6th grade schools and the two main middle school campuses which will house only 7th and 8th grades.  

“It was a great learning experience to work with the design team to plan for a new campus,” explains Travis Principal David Manchee. “The Travis 6th Grade Campus was planned to provide for collaborative opportunities, technology implementation, and traditional learning. The new campus will be something the Travis community will be proud of and excited about.”  

A big ticket bond item which should be finished by the time the doors open in August 2014 is the renovation at 13 elementary schools to make them more secure. At a cost of $7.5 million, these schools are undergoing office and main entrance reconfigurations to direct visitors through a reception area before accessing the rest of the campus. The elementary schools include Avondale, Belmar, Bivins, Oak Dale, Puckett, Ridgecrest, Sanborn, San Jacinto, Sleepy Hollow, South Georgia, Western Plateau, Windsor and Woodlands.

The district’s previous bond election, in 2003, provided these more secure entrances at many AISD elementary schools. Once construction at the remaining 13 schools is complete, all elementary schools in AISD will be equipped with added security in terms of physical space and also buzz-in systems at the main entrances.  

In addition to secured entrances, another large bond project is in the works. Construction is underway to add 57 new classrooms at seven schools across the district, plus a much-needed new cafeteria at Eastridge for a total cost of $15 million. About half of the new classroom additions will be finished in August and the other half complete by January 2015.

The schools receiving additional classrooms to meet student growth include Coronado (6 classrooms), Hamlet (7 classrooms), Mesa Verde (6 classrooms) and Rogers (8 classrooms) elementary schools, Crockett (6 classrooms) and Houston (8 classrooms) middle schools, and Tascosa High School (10 classrooms). At Eastridge, the old cafeteria will be converted to classrooms and a new cafeteria will be built.

By the end of August, nine schools including Caprock High School, Bowie and Travis middle schools, and Eastridge, Lawndale, Mesa Verde, Oak Dale, Sunrise, and Whittier elementary schools will have new heating and cooling systems in the first phase of HVAC replacement.

Although many bond projects will be complete in time for next school year, only 15 months after voters passed the 2013 bond election, there are several projects yet to be started, including synthetic grass for middle school playing fields, video security upgrades district-wide, and phase 2 of the HVAC replacement project.

“In recent years we’ve seen significant growth in many parts of Amarillo,” says Superintendent Rod Schroder. “This growth and also shifting demographics have tested the capacity of many of our schools. But thanks to a generous and supportive community, we are able to add classroom space, expand facilities, and renovate for security and efficiency. Every school in the district will benefit in some way from this investment in our future.”

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