Trustees Agree: HPISD Needs More Space

Highland Park ISD is bursting at the seams, and the board of trustees is struggling to find one more notch on the belt.

On Monday, the board had its latest facilities workshop with SHW Group Inc., a Plano-based architectural firm hired by HPISD to figure out how to accommodate a growing student population in a landlocked district.

Priorities and potential solutions have been thrown around for months, but in some ways became a little bit clearer on Monday.

Of course, the path to creating a master plan for the future starts with a bond election, which could happen as soon as May 2015. But how much the bond issue will cost voters, and what will be included, is still very much up for debate.

We’ll go into some more detailed scenarios later, including cost and construction estimates, but I’ll do my best to summarize a few key points after the jump.

1. Elementary schools

About 39 percent of HPISD’s students currently are in grades kindergarten through four, at one of four campuses that are already crowded. With more growth projected, a fifth elementary campus seems like an obvious solution.

The fifth elementary school could allow the attendance lines to be redrawn immediately after its opening, or it could function as a relief campus during the first four years while the other elementary schools are being either renovated or rebuilt, one at a time.

Of course, the biggest issue with this, as has been mentioned previously, is finding land to build such a school. It could be a three-level structure — which has been a common theme during talks of renovation district-wide — that would help in case the land is tight, according to Jonathan Aldis of SHW.

Another option under discussion is a new centralized kindergarten campus, which also could increase the district’s overall student capacity and could also function as a relief campus. But again, land acquisition would be tricky, and doubly difficult if a new elementary school is built as well.

2. Intermediate/middle school

As with most other facilities, there’s not much room for outward expansion at McCulloch Intermediate School and Highland Park Middle School. So the best chances at creating more room are to build up or down.

Aldis suggested the district look at adding a third floor of classroom and support space at MIS and HPMS, while adding an underground parking structure beneath the athletic fields to avoid losing green space.

3. Highland Park High School

Several options are on the table here. What trustees seemed to agree upon was an addition to the northwest corner of the existing building, located above the existing parking lot. The space could be used for a much-needed expansion of fine arts and music programs (a new band hall, for instance) without eliminating much parking. As a bonus, the reconfigured parking lot would be covered.

Also likely is a proposed relocation of the Seay Tennis Center, which currently is located across from Highlander Stadium and adjacent to the indoor practice facility. Aldis suggests the district construct a new, slightly smaller indoor tennis facility east of the parking garage, across the driveway from the school’s outdoor tennis courts. That would free up the space for an athletic complex of sorts, with office space and team space for various sports — along with a training room and weight room — that currently is cramped under the home bleachers of the stadium.

Longer-term options include the relocation of either the school’s natatorium or the stadium itself, either of which would then be rebuilt off-campus. But those would require even more land, not to mention more money.

Stay tuned, because we haven’t even mentioned money yet. But get ready for an influx of construction cranes coming soon to your neighborhood school.

By Todd Jorgenson Apr. 22, 2014 | 5:35 pm | 32 Comments | Comments RSS
32 comments to "Trustees Agree: HPISD Needs More Space"
  1. UP Mom @ April 23, 2014 at 10:09 am
    The UP zoning board should have stopped allowing single family attached housing to be built where one home was previously zoned years ago. The number of available apartments in HPISD has decreased substantially over the last decade. Is the average number of children per family in the PC on the rise?

  2. Avid Reader @ April 23, 2014 at 12:01 pm
    Is the Intermediate School/Middle School not already 3 stories…? Did they even discuss adding 2nd/3rd stories to the elementary schools?

  3. HP75 @ April 23, 2014 at 12:08 pm
    All this talk of buying more land is pointless. It aint out there and if it is it’s way too expensive. Move as many sports facilities off campus as possible and build more class rooms on existing land.

  4. Z @ April 23, 2014 at 6:24 pm
    Fifth elementary school at Coffee Park has always struck me as the most sensible idea with the lowest level of disruption.

  5. Z @ April 23, 2014 at 6:38 pm
    Here’s the simple, 3-point solution, right here. I won’t even charge the district for my analysis.

    1. Build a new elementary school at Coffee Park. It’s the only sensible location in terms of both geography and availability.

    2. Add a grade’s worth of capacity to the Middle/Intermediate campus. Of all preexisting campuses, the most abundant free space is there. Take a look at a satellite view of the grounds.

    3. Move the 9th Grade away from HPHS and onto the Middle/Intermediate campus.

    Done.

  6. Parkie @ April 24, 2014 at 10:08 am
    Z, None of what you purposed is simple or easily done. I think most difficult would be to convince the city of University Park, a separate entity from HPISD, to give away park land. As a UP resident, I would vehemently oppose that.

  7. HP75 @ April 24, 2014 at 10:42 am
    You can’t just haul off and build a school in a park. Cities are state mandated to have a certain amount of green space. Besides HPISD does not own the park, UP does. It would have to be voted on and UP would have to sell it to HPISD. Any bond package would then include massive land costs as well as the millions in construction costs. I’d be shocked if that idea passed. They will have to look at working with existing district property.

  8. 1st anon @ April 24, 2014 at 1:12 pm
    I’d support @Z’s proposals.

    @Parkie, it is simple if the community has the will. The City of UP just recently sold a park to SMU. As a UP resident, I would wholeheartedly support the HPISD purchase of -part- of Coffee Park (actually, I would add, -or- Burleson Park).

    @HP75, the land is indeed there, if you have the money and will to acquire it. Let’s look at some, ok? How about the row of properties just south of HPMS? Acquire Emerson Ave. and expand the HS all the way up to University Blvd. Coffee Park, Germany Park, Burleson Park, Fairfax Park. The apartments on University Blvd. at the Tollway. Snider Plaza Chase Bank building. The commercial building at Lovers/Preston, near the HS. Northway Christian Church. Unitarian Church. Jerry Jones house.

    Some harder than others, but all doable.

  9. XT @ April 24, 2014 at 1:38 pm
    Or, back to the first post, STOP THE GROWTH OF STUDENTS. Has anyone done a study of the number of students in apartments, the trend of single family houses turning into multi family apartments, etc?

  10. HP resident @ April 24, 2014 at 2:20 pm
    There are numerous houses in the park cities that are sized more like institutions than residences. I’d expect that somewhere around there is one that is large enough to be a school, or there are a couple that are adjacent to each other, that could be purchased and renovated to serve as a school, or as a specialized part of the school system.

  11. 1st anon @ April 24, 2014 at 3:22 pm
    @XT, the multi-family apartments do contribute, but it’s really the turnover of tear-downs and empty-nesters moving out. There are many, many more of the single family houses that are going from zero-kids to three/four-kids.

  12. Scots Mama @ April 24, 2014 at 8:37 pm
    Not Coffee Park – Northway Christian is the answer. Plenty of space and they would be more willing than the City of UP. How many members do they have? I’m willing to bet money, it isn’t a lot.

  13. Sam Tamborello @ April 25, 2014 at 10:33 am
    Mayor Joel Williams, III of Highland Park, Texas said something about there were no demographic issues back in 2012. I need to chuckle again. Actually, I believe the real issue is simply no foresight with some the HPISD Trustees or with some who run our local government(s).

    I believe its the same old song…….the same old story….taxpayers get stooged because the folks elected seem to scratch their heads when its too late. Sound familiar? Wondering how some who are given fiduciary duties and responsibility walk out in public with a straight face and ask for more money to resolve problems that needed addressing many years ago?

    I have one great idea that I believe this will really work with some of our elected officials. It’s a freebie……Resign and do something else.

    Hope this issue is resolved quickly because the only folks who suffer are the kids. All the best.

  14. Avid Reader @ April 25, 2014 at 1:47 pm
    @Sam Tamborello, Other than chuckling and bashing the competitor that beat you handily and then some; do you have any realistic thoughts on the issue?

  15. E @ April 25, 2014 at 4:41 pm
    When I read the part about Seay, I was thinking about what a great idea it was until I read all that space was going to be allocated again to sports. I thought we needed classrooms! Also, like the idea about building over the parking between the stadium and school. Has anyone talked about how many new teachers we are going to have to hire (and pay) with the increase in students? I have not and was just curious. I’m also wondering how many will be coaches/teachers since we’re moving up to 6A …. my kid has 3 of those this year. One is an amazing teacher, one is so-so and the other is probably a better coach than teacher. I’m just glad my kids are almost finished at HP!

  16. B @ April 26, 2014 at 3:54 pm
    I think the HPISD should build more schools and increase the taxes there schools are worth it.

  17. Maggie @ April 28, 2014 at 11:39 am
    Why do we have a softball field and a baseball field? Can’t we combine. What about the Seay tennis center? Do we need indoor as well as outdoor courts?

    We need to be smarter about how we spend our money.

  18. HeavyT71 @ April 28, 2014 at 1:35 pm
    @Maggie…baseball and softball are played on fields with totally different dimensions, plus baseball pitchers pitch from a mound, while softball pitchers pitch from flat ground…not ideal for an “all-purpose” field.

  19. Parkie @ April 28, 2014 at 6:48 pm
    Maggie, you can’t play if the courts are wet–too dangerous. And the outdoor courts have no lights. The indoor courts are used all year round, and students practice there every afternoon.

  20. HPGRAD @ June 5, 2014 at 7:47 am
    here are my ideas for school space issue:
    1) need to eminent domain some of Dallas country club land. They pretend to be a nonprofit,but what is their charity? I know they can afford it thats not the question. they dont seem to meet the spirit of a nonprofit organization.
    2) build a Klyde Warren type structure over 75 between mockingbird and university and build schools there.or do some land swapping with SMU, maybe for the old UA Cine property on SMU BLVD.
    3) Hillcrest bank land?? whats going on there?
    4) city of UP land on university just east of 75 or warcola property.

  21. Boundaries @ June 5, 2014 at 8:20 pm
    @HPGrad – good thoughts but isn’t the district limited to 75 on the east border thus making #4 void?

    highly doubt #1 would happen.

  22. janie @ June 9, 2014 at 9:37 am
    there is a little slice of university park just east of 75 at fondren, where cafe brazil is.
    also the City owns property just south of SMU blvd on both sides of warcola, who says all of our schools must be within our city limits?
    DCC’s clock is ticking. they have always been terrible at managing their money and the new club house was a budget and savings buster. they have 100 acres and pay significantly reduced property tax. if there were 400 houses on that property with average tax of $20K per year thats $8M. they pay about $500K and claim their $10million clubhouse is only worth $2M. either pay your fair share or give up 25 acres for you neighborhood and members children to go to school. The days of snobby, selfish country clubs are quickly coming to an end. they need to do some reputation management and create a more accepting, inclusive atmosphere if they want to stay in biz.

  23. XT @ June 9, 2014 at 10:01 am
    @ Janie,

    1) I agree that DCC should pay considerably more taxes.
    2) I don’t agree that they are obligated to give back to the community as an organization. They are a business.
    3) I would be you that the members of the DCC are extremely generous in terms of giving back to the community individually (which doesn’t negate my first point, but offsets my second).

  24. NFW @ June 9, 2014 at 10:53 am
    I have been trying to wrap my head around the taxes paid by DCC for years. How is their property and LAND valued at cost? Did we make a deal with the devil years ago that we are still living with now? How is it my home is valued at $380 a square foot, and that building is assessed at $20 million and their land sits with an assessed value of $1.6 million? Really? Unless they have some kind of lease arrangement with a shell owner, the folks in HP and UP are seriously getting ripped off.

  25. janie @ June 9, 2014 at 3:34 pm
    @XT,
    I know DCC is not obligated in any way to give back to community, no one is obligated to give to their neighborhood but in the spirit of being a good neighbor and caring about the community that you make a living off of I would be doing everything i could to make the neighbors love me. Shoot, i would have a person standing on mockingbird passing out lemon aid and snacks to everyone driving by in rush hour traffic. Or how about an open house? or give away free pop sickles in the july 4th at the park event? I haven’t ever seen them do anything outside their gates.
    I agree the members are generous on a personal level but ive never heard one of them say they were acting as a DCC member while donating time or money. Membership and generosity are mutually exclusive not a cause and effect relationship.

  26. XT @ June 9, 2014 at 5:23 pm
    janie,
    First off, I don’t belong to DCC or any country club, and not a fan of DCC. But just because I don’t like “them”, doesn’t mean that I should hold them to a different standard. They are not a retail or services business that is “making money off of a community”.Country clubs are exclusive by their very nature.I’ve never heard of any country club in the many places that I have lived doing what you suggest they do, nor do I expect them to.
    To be honest, even if they behaved in the way you wish they would, I would STILL make them pay their fair share of taxes. Those two things also shouldn’t be a cause and effect relationship. Because I don’t care if they are a good neighbor (and I don’t know if they are or not), I just don’t believe that they should receive any special consideration.

  27. janie @ June 9, 2014 at 9:46 pm
    @XT, they are not a good neighbor, they dont pay their fair share of taxes, they pay about 10% of what you and i pay and they are protesting even paying that much. is that your definition of a good neighbor? so no they are not being held to a higher standard, we are. they are getting away with paying extremely low taxes and collecting dues, food and bar tabs etc. so they are costing this community quite a bit.

    I was KIDDING when i suggested DCC should give away free pop sickles, lighten up! i think you are missing my point completely. was not intending to hate on DCC, trying to offer ideas to solve this communities #1 problem and priority….space to educate our children.

  28. Pat @ June 10, 2014 at 10:28 am
    1st anon said @ April 24, 2014 at 3:22 pm
    @XT, the multi-family apartments do contribute, but it’s really the turnover of tear-downs and empty-nesters moving out. There are many, many more of the single family houses that are going from zero-kids to three/four-kids.

    So the solutions are restrict the size of new home construction and/or add birth control to the water reservoir.

  29. XT @ June 10, 2014 at 1:47 pm
    @ Janie,
    Can you please point out where in my posts I said they were a good neighbor?
    Can you also point out where I said that they were paying a fair amount of taxes?
    Someone needs to lighten up (and address some anger issues), but it isn’t me…

  30. 1st anon @ June 10, 2014 at 4:13 pm
    @Pat, my point was that so many people in multi-million dollars houses are quick to blame the multi-family apartments. Single parents in an apartment are easy targets. But in fact, they are a smaller contributor to the growth.

    About DCC: they don’t pay taxes according to land or building value. It’s different rules than residential taxing. Don’t blame DCC. Blame the laws (and elect people to change them if you don’t like them). Ask Morgan, Leigh, and Don what they think.

  31. Pat @ June 11, 2014 at 10:26 am
    @1st anon, I really wasn’t disagreeing with you but old apartments are razed and new ones with greater density are built. Same thing goes for the small homes being knocked down. The growth will remain unchecked as there is a symbiotic relationship between it and the behemoth city infrastructure. Big structures = Big taxes which feed the machine (city maintenance/services/improvements/payroll/pensions etc.). My comment about bc was a joke but it would work ;)

  32. 1st anon @ June 11, 2014 at 4:47 pm
    @Pat, actually, “old apartments are razed and new ones with greater density are built” is not true anymore. It used to be, but UP planning in the early 2000s started understanding the errors of their ways. Go talk to them. I have. Now, UP planning is trying to ensure that the density for new apartments is less than old. I’ll give them a little credit in trying to reverse the trend.

    Still, the largest growth comes from a 1500 sq. ft. bungalow or a 2500 sq. ft. 2-story that is sold, and a family with 2-4 kids move in to their new 4k-5k sq. ft. home. Face it, you are not going to slow down the growth as long as we have superior public schools. You may as well count the number of single family homes, multiply by 4 kids. Add in 2 kids per multi-family unit. There’s your number. Plan for it.

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