Written by John Starkey
By Alice Canham
There may be some dramatic changes at your child’s school this fall, as contractors have been busy performing maintenance and upgrade throughout Irving ISD over the summer.
“Crockett and Houston Middle Schools are undergoing the largest renovations by far, at a cost of about $5 million each,” said Scott Layne, Assistant Superintendent/School Support Services for the District.
“Crockett will receive an addition to the office area, along with a total renovation of the office area, which will allow us to create a secure entry for the building. They also get general renovations throughout.
“Houston is probably the most significant, with school-wide renovations. A new office area will be provided at the front, within the existing building, for a secure entry. They’ll get a new library, and everything’s been relocated: the new library will be to the left of the main entrance instead of to the right.
“The second floor ramps that were somewhat the signature of Houston Middle School since it was built are no longer there. They’ve been taken out and there’s a walkway now that connects both second floor areas. It’s a very dramatic change. People will be very surprised. They won’t know they’re in the same building.”
Also undergoing some changes – John Haley Elementary, $2 million for interior renovations; Lively Elementary, $1 million-plus for interior renovations; and Gilbert Elementary, $1 million-plus for renovations and aesthetics.
Look for a completely new traffic pattern at Farine Elementary, also at a cost of $1 million-plus.
“We’re reworking the vehicle circulation routes for pick-ups and drop-offs,” explained Layne. “That should help with traffic issues that have been a concern.
“That school is located so near the street. It was difficult to get the vehicles in, because they get stacked up when parents are transporting their kids. The cars would stack up all the way down Metker to O’Connor, and kids on foot would be mixed in with the cars. It was not a good situation.
“Over the past year we’ve studied how to fix this, and we’ve actually based our solution on a suggestion made by the former principal at the school. And of course we worked with the City of Irving.
“So what we’ve done is to create a drive that goes to the back of the school. The parents will actually drop off and pick up at the gymnasium area now. We’ve built a turnaround back there so we can get more vehicles off the street.
“We’ll go to a numbering system, and parents will be issued a placard to hang on their rearview mirror. The kids will be waiting for pickup in the gymnasium, and staff members with radios will send messages in to the gym when the parent arrives.”
The upgrades were approved as part of the 2007 bond issue, and the District is working within its allotted budget, according to Layne.