Category: Bond Election

New UP Elementary: More Green Space, Less Sprawl

Lovers Lane entry to the proposed new elementary school. (Rendering courtesy of STANTEC/HPISD)

Highland Park ISD officials have learned to tread carefully with construction plans.

The district’s new UP Elementary plans show a design approach rooted in the school’s traditional aesthetic — blonde brick, original stonework, if structurally viable — but updated to accommodate a more modern learning approach and the demands of the district’s ever-growing student body.

“You’re going to see really interesting and innovative educational things happening across the district,” design and construction committee member and Highland Park dad Michael Malone said.

The school’s capacity will increase 15 percent, allowing space for 770 students once the district is reorganized into five sectors.

HPISD and Stantec, the architecture firm heading up the rebuild, will present their plans to the University Park planning and zoning committee Jan. 10 after months of negotiations with neighbors, the district’s own design committee, and the school’s Legacy Committee.

HPISD Puts Community in the Room With Developers

Back row: Michael Malone and Karl Hirschey. Front row: Jerry Grable and Michelle Davis. (Photo courtesy of HPISD)

In an effort to prove their goodwill in keeping neighbors involved in the upcoming elementary school renovations, the Highland Park ISD board has chosen four community members to serve on a committee that will meet monthly with developers and board members during the five-year construction process.

The Design and Construction Committee, which first met in September, will meet for the third time this month. The community members – Michelle Davis, Jerry Grable, Karl Hirschey, and Michael Malone – were pulled from within the business and development sector to assist with concepting, budgeting, and making recommendations to the board on construction-related issues.

“Not only are each of them parents of current or former students,” board superintendent Dr. Tom Trigg said in a press release, “but they each bring significant experience and insight that will help us best manage the resources entrusted to us as a result of the recent bond election.”

HPISD Breaks Ground on Fifth Elementary

HPISD Board of Trustee members and Dallas City Councilwoman Jennifer Staubach Gates break ground on the district's newest elementary school. (Photo: Elizabeth Ygartua)

HPISD hosted an official groundbreaking ceremony for the new elementary school in the former Northway Christian Church lot on June 20, with representatives from the board, the city of Dallas, the facilities advisory committee, and the new school's neighbors in attendance.

Guests were treated to a performance from the UP Elementary Choir, who will be some of the first students to attend the new school when it opens next August.

Renderings of the building's facade were on display during the ceremony. After the groundbreaking, Jonathan Aldis of Stantec, the architecture firm hired by the board, explained to onlookers certain adjustments that had been made since the hearing at Dallas City Hall in May for the city's approval to rezone the property - a process that Dallas City Councilwoman Jennifer Staubach Gates, who represents District 13 where the school is located, described as "epic". 

HPISD To Break Ground on New Elementary


HPISD will break ground on the new elementary school in an official ceremony at 7324 Wentwood Drive on Monday, June 20 at 10 a.m., HPISD spokesperson Jon Dahlander confirmed.

The groundbreaking marks the beginning of the district's first new elementary school build since 1948. Construction is set to begin June 23.

HPISD advise in a press release that parking will be available in Northway Christian Church's lot on Northwest Parkway.

Look for more on HPISD's construction plans in our upcoming issue of Park Cities People.

City Council Approves Zoning for New School


Following the recommendation of the Dallas City Plan Commission earlier this month, City Council unanimously approved on May 25 Highland Park ISD's request to rezone property bought from Northway Christian Church to build a fifth elementary school.

HPISD's success means that they will be able to stay on track with their ambitious construction schedule. At the latest HPISD board meeting May 17, school board facilities chair Jim Hitzelberger said construction was set to begin in June, contingent on City Council's approval.

He also promised availability and communication from the board with neighbors and the greater community throughout the process, which will include "extensive meetings with neighbors" and a hotline to call during construction. 

Incumbents Win School Board Seats in Landslide

Incumbents Paul Rowsey and Kelly Walker joined forces with Edward Herring, who will replace Cynthia Beecherl, against a new slate of candidates - Bonnie Lammers, Gerry Hudnall, and Anthony Scalia - in the board's first contested election in five years.

Incumbents Paul Rowsey and Kelly Walker, and newcomer Edward Herring, took their seats on the Highland Park ISD board of trustees on May 17, after a decisive victory in the May 7 election against outspoken opposition.

“The community spoke. ... And the majority spoke to keep the status quo,” said Anthony Scalia, unsuccessful candidate for seat five. But while yard signs may be coming down, the election may have left a more indelible mark on the community.

School board candidates have historically run unopposed in HP. The last contested race was in 2011. This year, the race was not a simple face-off between individuals. Instead, candidates divided themselves into two opposing factions at the outset, creating a dichotomy between old guard and new slate.

New seat five trustee Edward Herring (replacing the recently-retired longtime trustee Cynthia Beecherl), teamed up with Walker (seat three) and Rowsey (seat four) to form the PAC “Putting Our Kids First.”

Their opponents – Scalia, along with Bonnie Lammers (three) and Gerry Hudnall (four) – rallied together behind the PAC “We the People of HPISD,” which was formed by Park Cities resident Dan Newell. 

Incumbents Hold Their Ground in HPISD Election


HPISD's hotly contested election to replace one retiring board member and two incumbents closed yesterday and brought in over 4,100 votes, according to HPISD.

Incumbents Kelly Walker and Paul Rowsey, along with their PAC ally Edward Herring, each received over two thirds of the votes for their respective places, safely defeating their new slate rivals Bonnie Lammers, Gerry Hudnall, and Anthony Scalia, respectively.

These were the final numbers, provided by HPISD in a press release:

HPISD, Dallas Move Forward on New School, But Can Everyone Live With It?


After months of negotiations, the Highland Park Independent School District Board of Trustees brought their revised proposal for the building site of a fifth elementary school to the Dallas City Plan Commission Thursday in a petition to rezone the property.

The proposal was approved unanimously, despite several persistent concerns from the community and doubts from the city of Dallas. The hearing, formerly set for April 21, had been delayed until now due to complications regarding the building site and school design – matters that have been the cause of some controversy within the Park Cities.

But Dallas was adamant that the hearing was not a platform for a neighborhood quarrel. Commissioners were forced at various points during the hearing to stress that the sole purpose of their body was land use; specifically, Dallas land use.

“You’re free to say whatever you’d like … but items about the bond, and I appreciate the data, but we’re not here to decide whether another school should be built, or capacity, or any kind of educational issues,” Bobby Abtahi, vice chair of the Dallas CPC, told a nearly full room, in anticipation of a lengthy round of commentary from both sides.

PAC’s Potty Talk Consumes Contentious School Board Election

We the People of HPISD PAC election flyer supporting Bonnie Lammers (Seat 3), Gerry Hudnall (Seat 4), and Anthony Scalia (Seat 5).

We are entering the one-week run-up to the Highland Park ISD Board of Trustees election, and with early voting already underway, the hot topic of the day is…bathrooms.

The one-man PAC “We the People of HPISD” sent out an email newsletter Wednesday expressing concerns over the bathroom designs for the new fifth elementary school, and the federal funding believed to be at the root of the problem.

The letter, which was written by John Guittard and circulated by Dan Newell, creator of “We the People,” gives a detailed vision of what the PAC has termed “joined-gender” bathrooms would mean for students.

“It [HPISD’s proposed design] gives them [students] no adequate protection or privacy; it’s unsafe; and it’s stupid,” the letter argues. “So a boy (or a man?) washing his hands at a sink might be just around the open corner from a girl in a stall just a few feet away.”