Askew ES community hears construction update on new school

Parents and neighbors gathered Tuesday at Askew Elementary to learn more about the construction of their new school, which is being built as part of HISD’s 2012 bond program.

“Construction is well underway. We’re moving and we’re moving fast,” Jorge Huerta, Askew’s project manager told the group, many of whom cheered the announcement.

The new school has a target opening in the third quarter of 2018, in time for the start of the new school year. Crews then will demolish the old building to make way for a parking lot and playgrounds, work that is expected to be completed by the end of that year.

“I’ve seen the magic that happens at Askew on a daily basis,” said HISD Trustee Holly Flynn Vilaseca, who represents the school. “I’m really excited for the opportunity to have this as a new flagship in our neighborhood.” Also joining Flynn Vilaseca at the school was Chief School Officer Jorge Arredondo.

The new $26.6 million school will have a long, narrow footprint that extends east to west along the north side of the property, with plenty of windows providing natural light throughout. 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 am excited to see the new building going up and to be part of this phase,” said Acting Principal Bianca Garrett. “It’s great that we’ll be getting a gym in the new building, with a new stage and new sound equipment.”

The project was on an accelerated schedule for the planning and design phases but a contractor change last year moved it back to its original target completion date of third quarter 2018. Representatives from Drymalla Construction Company were present at the meeting to discuss safety and specific project milestones.

Bobby Leflar, a neighbor to the school whose property backs up to the construction site said he is happy to see the progress.

“I watch them over my fence every day,” Leflar said. “The speed that they came in here and got things going is awesome. They really took the bull by the horns.”

 Read more about the Askew Elementary School bond project.

HISD’s bond program, which was approved by voters in 2012, calls for the renovation or rebuilding of 40 schools, including 29 high schools. Active construction is currently underway on roughly three dozen projects — more activity than at any other time in district history.