Construction on new Askew ES to begin as early as September

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Site work at Askew Elementary School is underway with construction of the new building scheduled to begin this fall, according to design and construction plans presented to community members on Tuesday.

Existing temporary buildings are being removed to make room for construction of the new school on the north side of the campus. Crews are preparing to install two temporary classroom buildings on the southwest side of the campus to accommodate students during construction.

“This is the exciting part of the job when everything starts to come to life,” Project Manager Ron Keller said to about 40 people who gathered for an update on plans for the $26.6 million facility, which is part of HISD’s voter-approved 2012 Bond.

Designs plans show the building has a long, narrow footprint that extends east to west. Classrooms with lots of windows line the north and south sides of the building, allowing for natural, but not direct, light. Administrative offices will be located near the main entry, which faces Wood Lodge Drive. A secure reception area will allow the front office to screen all visitors before granting them building access.

Students in pre-kindergarten through first grade will be located on the first floor, as will the learning commons, music and theater classrooms, visual arts lab, and special education. Also on the first floor are dining and multipurpose areas, separated by an accordion door.

The second floor will house second through fifth grade classrooms, as well as the art lab, additional administrative offices and a computer lab that overlooks the learning commons. Hallways on both floors have alcoves that can accommodate up to 10 students for independent study.

“I’m a very, very proud principal here at Askew Elementary,” Askew Principal Ebony Cumby said as she opened the meeting. “I’d like to recognize a very special group of individuals, without whom, a new building would not be possible…. Thank you so much to our Project Advisory Team. Thank you for the time and dedication you’ve put in.”

Construction of the new school is scheduled for completion in December 2017, allowing students and staff to move into  their new building in 2018. Crews then will demolish the old building to make way for a parking lot and playgrounds, work that is expected to be completed later that year.

Because of limited available space, both school staff and construction crews will park off-site and be shuttled to and from campus. Parents must use street parking.

Future Askew parent Kyle Kiker said his son will be in the first kindergarten class at the new building, so he came to the meeting to learn more about plans for the school his son will one day attend.

“I think the gentlemen gave a well thought out and professional presentation,” Kiker said, noting that he was happy to see windows in the classrooms, which allowed students to see and connect with the outdoors. “It’s an added plus to have a school linked to the land.”

Former Askew parent and neighborhood resident Janet Lovelady said she came to the meeting hoping to learn more about neighborhood traffic concerns. Traffic, she said, has long been an issue around the school — even without construction.

“My kids are in high school, but they would have loved all of this,” she said, snapping a photo of the designs to show her son, now in 11th grade at Westside High School. “Once the headaches of the actual construction are over, I think it will be much better.”

Read more about the Askew Elementary School bond project.