Community hears about plans for a new Relief Elementary

The new elementary school being built to help relieve crowding in the West Houston area will be located on a unique piece of land that offers views and an abundance of natural beauty.

“It’s a wonderful place to build a school,” Trustee Harvin Moore told a group of parents and community members who turned out Monday to learn more about the project.

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The school, dubbed Relief Elementary until it gets an official name, is being built for 750 students on 10 acres of land on Old Farm Road between Buffalo Bayou and Westheimer. Attendance boundaries for the new campus and surrounding elementary schools have not yet been recommended. Any changes would need to be approved by the Board of Education.

The new $23.4 million school is being designed by English & Associates with the Construction Manager at Risk firm of DivisionOne. Over the past six months, a group of HISD administrators, teachers, community members and facility planners have been regularly meeting to develop the vision for the new school and to ensure the design meets the educational needs of students.

The goal of the Project Advisory Team is to build a 21st century campus that will integrate technology, flexible spaces and make the most of natural light.

On Monday, the project held the first of three community meetings to gather feedback on the design progress so far.

Preliminary renderings show a design that takes advantage of the site’s north-facing view of Buffalo Bayou and wooded areas. The design team has also come up with two bus and parent drop-off areas that do not intersect with pedestrian flow. Also incorporated into the design is space for future expansion, given the growth in the area.

“We’ve done some very preliminary bubble diagramming,” said Angelia Mackey, project manager with English & Associates. “A lot of the conversations we’ve had is about connecting to the outside.”

In addition to asking questions about the project schedule, many in the audience at Monday’s community meeting wanted to know more details about how and when attendance boundaries for the campus would be set.

“I know people are concerned about the zoning,” said Betty Luman, a parent of two students at Briargrove Elementary school and a member of the Relief Elementary School’s Project Advisory Team. She said the goal of the PAT has been to create a school that parents and students will be excited about.

“Everybody has brought their best ideas to the table,” she said.

Architect Kathleen English said her goal is to make sure those ideas are reflected in the design of the building. “We want this school to be so awesome that everyone will want to be zoned here,” she said.