Rendering of the front of the new Manvel Junior High.

AISD works to meet facility needs

In News by Reporter News

Voters residing in the Alvin Independent School District (AISD) approved a $212,445,000 bond election in November 2013 to meet the infrastructure requirements for the rapidly growing district. AISD’s growth for the period 2007 through 2012 averaged 712 students each year for a total increase of 3,560 students. This year alone, Alvin ISD schools welcomed more than 1,000 new students, which places a strain on the already packed facilities. 18 out of 23 Alvin ISD campuses have reached permanent building capacity, which is the number of students that the facility was originally built for. 13 out of 23 campuses have exceeded not only the permanent building capacity, but have even surpassed the flex capacity. Flex capacity, also known as temporary capacity, is the additional space added to facilities by utilizing temporary buildings, or repurposing areas of the building not originally designed to be used as a classroom. A report provided by Templeton Demographics projects that by the year 2020 Alvin ISD will welcome more than 5,000 additional students, increasing total enrollment from the current 20,914, to nearly 26,000. For reference, a typical elementary school designed to AISD standards accommodates 800 students. In order to keep pace with that growth, the equivalent of more than one new elementary school will be required each year for the calculable future.

The total bond project costs were estimated at $252,600,000 with the balance of funding coming from other sources, including previously approved and unused bond funds, district fund balance, and the operations budget. Bond funds remained from previous issues due to favorable pricing of projects during the economic downturn experienced in the few years subsequent to 2008. The fund balance represents essentially a reserve account, the largest portion of which provides up to three months of available operating expenses in case of an economic hardship of some kind. Other recent uses of fund balance includes $14 million for the construction of Duke Elementary which opened this school year; nearly $4.5 million for pre-construction costs for the new high school to serve west Pearland and a junior high school in Manvel that is currently under construction on land north of Manvel High School. The pre-construction expenditures were required in order to meet the timetable for completion of the two schools; 2016 for the high school and 2015 for the junior high. A smaller portion of the other funding sources came from the operations budget.

The district reports the Shadow Creek High School construction to be 30% complete. It is scheduled to open in time for the 2016 school year and will serve the west side of the district, alleviating crowded conditions at Manvel High School. The campus will accommodate 2000 students and will comprise 531,400 square feet on 72 acres. Total construction cost is $90.2 million. The design will include five learning houses, modern instructional spaces for core content, fine arts, athletics, and career and technology training. There also will be a double level auditorium. Steel erection is ongoing and is expected to soon be complete. Rainy conditions in recent months has affected the site work progress mostly but some concrete pouring is occurring at the north parking lot and grading is underway for the primary drive from Broadway. The grading of athletic fields and perimeter fencing is in progress and plans call for the ball fields to all have sod in place before this summer so that time will allow it to take root and be robust come its opening the following year.

The new Manvel Junior High is furthest along of the current projects, estimated at 72% complete. The new campus will open this summer in time for the next school year. Its opening will relieve overcrowded conditions at both other junior highs serving the west side, Nolan Ryan in Shadow Creek Ranch, and Manvel JH at Rodeo Palms. The campus will accommodate 1200 students in a facility design used at other district junior highs. It sets on 25 acres of land and has a construction budget of $28.7 million.

Meridiana Elementary School just began construction on 12 acres at CR 48 and CR 56 in Iowa Colony. It has a cost of $17.4 million and will serve to relieve crowded conditions at Don Jeter Elementary and Savannah Lakes Elementary. It is planned to open for the 2016 school year.

Also of interest to Manvel residents is the renovation of the old Manvel Junior High campus for a Career and Technical Education (CTE) Center. Eventually it is projected the campus will house the districts centralized CTE programs and will serve students from all AISD High Schools. Currently under construction is Phase 1 of the project that includes an auto tech and auto collision training area. The $2.8 million cost will be covered from the maintenance and operations budget as was approved by the Board of Trustees. It is estimated the new auto program will commence in the summer of 2016. A Phase 2 will complete the program and is contingent on future bond funds.

A new Agricultural (Ag) facility was included in the 2013 bond and is slated to begin construction this May. The cost is not yet determined. The Ag facility will comprise 12 acres and will expand opportunities for instructional access, provide a closer location for many district students, and will include a show arena. It is expected to be complete in early 2016.

Other school construction either in progress or expected to soon break ground include an expansion and renovation of the current junior high in Alvin. The renovation currently working will expand capacity to 1000 students and includes significant upgrades to infrastructure systems and learning spaces. It is expected to be ready for the 2015-2016 school year.

Ground was broken recently on the Bill Hasse Elementary school in Alvin. It will cost $17.1 million and will replace Longfellow Elementary that previously sat on the site. The new campus will offer amenities consistent with other newer elementary campuses in the district. It is expected to accept students for the 2016-2017 school year.

Two other elementary schools were included in the 2013 bond package with construction costs and start dates not yet announced. The two schools are at Sterling Lakes in Iowa Colony on CR 48 and in the recently begun Pomona master planned community at CR 101 and Kirby.

It is likely the school district will put forth another bond election this November as district needs endure. A Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) comprising a varied group of stakeholders was recently sanctioned by the District’s Board of Trustees. The CAC will provide direction to the District by conducting an in-depth analysis of district facilities and program needs and will develop formal recommendations for the Board to consider. Among the areas of study include new student enrollment, current campus capacity, future classroom capacity needs, aging facilities, instructional program needs, and career and technical education.

All CAC meetings are open to the public and community input is welcomed and encouraged. Six meetings are scheduled from March 2 through June 15. A final recommendation will be presented to the Board in July.

Additional information on the process and a schedule of meeting times and dates is available on the AISD website.

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