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About 40 parents, neighbors, and staff of Askew Elementary School participated in a bond community meeting at the school this week, where they were briefed on the project status and design plans for their new campus.
As part of HISD’s $1.89 billion bond program, Askew will receive a new $26.6 million facility built to accommodate 850 pre-K through fifth-grade students.
Attendees heard from the project manager, architect, and trustee, as well as from several volunteer members of the Project Advisory Team, which includes community members, teachers from all grade levels, and HISD staff.
“It’s been an eye-opening process, because this has not just been HISD coming and saying, ‘This is your budget, this is your school, you get to pick a color,’” said Rick Sperandio, PAT member and former Askew parent. “As a team, we’ve made decisions based on safety, security, education, materials, logistics, parking, swing space, project timeline, and more. It’s been a big commitment from all of us on the PAT, but it’s been worth it.”
The design 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.
“After the first meeting, based on feedback, there were some changes made – and that’s a great thing, because feedback does matter,” said HISD Trustee Greg Meyers, who represents Askew. “We want this project to be the absolute best that it can be, because that’s what our children deserve.”
After considering feedback received from the first community meeting held last summer, the PAT modified the layout to address neighborhood concerns. The learning commons (library) will now be located on the west side of the building, and the cafeteria will be on the east, which should reduce noise for the near-neighbors.
“The plans are really nice,” said Askew parent Shirazi Jaleel-Khan. “I like the layout and added security, and the multi-purpose community room with the entrance from the lobby.”
Going forward the professional project staff and PAT will continue to work through remaining issues, from logistics and parking during construction to materials and color schemes. This information will be shared with stakeholders at the third community meeting to be scheduled in May of this year.
Construction is expected to start in the third quarter 2016, and take about 18 months to complete.