Parents, students, and community members reviewed plans at a fourth and final community meeting on Tuesday night to preserve, modernize, and break ground on the new Milby High School.
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“Right now, we’re moving stuff out of the building,” said Guy Cooke of Tellepsen Builders, the school’s contractor, to a crowd of nearly 75 people. “The majority of Milby’s building materials will be hauled off, recycled and reused, and it takes all of the school property to sort that.”
After building materials are sorted and the building goes through abatement, demolition is expected to begin in the fall. Milby is among 40 HISD schools being renovated or rebuilt into a 21st century learning environment with funds from the $1.89 billion bond program. The project could take at least two years to build.
During construction, Milby students in the ninth grade will attend school at Attucks Middle School while 10th– 11th– and 12th-graders will be at Jones Futures Academy. Milby Principal Roy de la Garza says he is working on making the campus area that will be used by Milby students feel and look like Milby by painting the walls in its school colors and hanging Milby banners. Items from Milby are being moved to the Jones campus. He also plans to schedule a day in which sophomores, juniors and seniors can visit and tour the campus before school begins.
“This is not the best situation for our students, but the building needs to get built, and it had to happen at some point in time,” de la Garza said. “We care deeply about your kids. Just because we’re changing the venue doesn’t mean that changes.”
The Milby redesign will preserve the historical facade portion of the 1926 building and connect that space to a new building. The first level will include administrative offices, a library, an auditorium with a black box, and a student union that opens up to a large dining commons area where students can meet for lunch or study in groups. A large courtyard behind the dining area will allow students to easily go outside for lunch, club meetings and gather before and after school.
Three-story academic wings to the north and south of the building will include learning spaces for science and engineering labs, welding, culinary arts complete with a student-run café, and a print shop in the career technical education area to provide students with real job experience. Performing and visual arts learning areas and athletic spaces will be located on the back end of the campus.
“Students will feel more motived and inspired in a building like this because it is more modern,” said Rachel Esquibel, who has two granddaughters attending Milby. “This school will make students see themselves in a different light.”