After years of construction, Waltrip High School is now poised to unveil the completion of several major renovations projects when students return to school this fall.
On the first day of school, students are expected to be welcomed by a new main entry and band hall, new first- and second-floor classrooms, new administrative offices, and new career education spaces.
“We’ve lived through construction for a long time now, but we’ve learned to take it all in stride,” said Waltrip Principal Dale Mitchell, who welcomed his teachers back to school on Monday with news that preliminary state reports show marked improvement on the school’s academic front.
Preliminary reports from the Texas Education Agency indicate Waltrip is demonstrating more than one year’s growth per year on average and closing the achievement gap at a faster rate compared to most other schools, he noted.
“We’re improving our academics even with all the construction,” Mitchell said. “I think that really speaks to the dedication of our people and quality of programs that make up Waltrip.”
The work at Waltrip is part of the voter-approved, $1.89 billion 2012 Bond Program, which calls for the renovation or rebuilding of 40 schools, including 29 high schools. Almost two dozen projects are currently under active construction — the most at any time in district history. And when all projects are complete, HISD will boast of one of the most modern portfolios of urban high schools in the country.
The new main entry of the school is expected to be open for use on day one, but probably not before that. Until then, Waltrip staff, students, and visitors — including those coming for registration or the Ram Rally on Aug. 18 — will continue to be routed through the north end entrance. New furniture is being delivered and placed throughout the school this week.
“We’re really excited about the new furniture,” Mitchell said. “It’s comfortable, it’s colorful and flexible.”
The new circle drive, parent drop-off, and front parking lot also will also be open for the start of school. However, it is likely that work on punch-list items will be in progress for several additional weeks.
Work will continue this fall on new third-floor classrooms, as well as the renovation and expansion of the second gymnasium and the girls locker room. These areas are expected to be complete mid-way through the school year, probably early in the first quarter of 2017.