Askew Elementary stakeholders turned out for the school’s first of three bond community meetings on Wednesday, where they heard from the architect and other project team members about initial design plans for a new campus.
As part of HISD’s $1.89 billion bond program, Askew, located in the fast-growing west side of Houston, will receive a new $26.6 million facility built to accommodate 850 pre-K through fifth-grade students.
“You can see from the strong turnout tonight that this community is very interested in the project and wants to have input,” said Askew Principal Ebony Cumby. “We still have some issues to work through; we’re still in the early stages, but it’s very exciting.”
The proposed design for Askew features a two-story building erected on the north side of the property, with the front entrance remaining south-facing on Wood Lodge. The building plans provide for ample natural light, flexible learning spaces, and areas to accommodate outdoor learning opportunities. Most of the large trees will be preserved and the playground will feature a walking/jogging path that will be available for community use.
Project team members received mostly positive feedback on the plans, but some concerns were also raised by some of the nearly 70 people in attendance.
“We had a lot of good feedback,” said Jennifer Major, Project Advisory Team member and Askew parent. “I did hear some concern about the placement of the school on the property and how that impacts our neighbors. We’ve pushed the school back from where it is now, closer to the fence line, so we’re going to have to continue to look at things creatively and where possible make adjustments.”
Another concern was the plan to build the new school in back of the current building while students remain on the site during construction.
“Safety is our number one priority. We don’t compromise on that,” said Michael Scott, HISD’s project manager for the Askew project. “The construction area will be completely fenced off from students and staff, and strict safety protocols will be put in place.”
Going forward the professional project staff will obtain price estimates to ensure the project is within budget. The PAT will continue to meet monthly to work through design issues and will schedule the second community meeting in the first or second quarter of 2016.
Construction of the new school could begin as early as the third quarter of 2016. Once started, construction is expected to last 16 to 18 months.
”Any time you have the amount of folks that came here tonight, that’s great. There was a lot of good dialogue, and we want to hear from everybody,” said HISD Trustee Greg Meyers, who represents the school.