Furr HS parents get sneak peek of new school

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Furr High School Principal Bertie Simmons celebrated her 83rd birthday last week by leading Trustee Diana Davila and other school supporters on a tour of their new campus, which is being rebuilt as part of the 2012 Bond Program.

“It’s the most beautiful building in the district,” Simmons said. “We can’t wait to move in.”

With construction on the new facility now more than 80 percent complete, anticipation among stakeholders is growing every day as they see the project nearing the finish line. Construction is expected to be completed in mid-June, and the building then will be stocked with new furniture and technology, making way for teachers and staff to move in over the summer.

“I’m amazed,” said Davila. “I’ve seen the plans, but walking in the building, actually seeing it, is completely different.”

Davila said she is pleased that a community health clinic is going to be included in the facility, and is hopeful that the new building, along with the clinic, will help draw the community back to the school.

When work is complete, Furr will receive a 182,000-square-foot, $55 million building that will accommodate 1,300 students. The three-story facility was designed to enhance the school’s science, technology, engineering, and arts programs. It includes flexible, brightly colored learning areas with moveable furniture and sliding glass doors to make the rooms easily adjustable and accommodate changing needs of students and staff.

“It’s a beautiful thing,” said parent and 1995 Furr graduate Walter Shelby, who was one of about 50 participating in the tour. “This feels like college. It’ll make kids want to come to school and hopefully go on to college.”

Shelby said he likes the openness of the building, especially the indoor/outdoor dining area.

Once teachers and students have moved into the new building, the old structure will be demolished to make room for athletics fields and additional parking.

“It’s very exciting,” said Furr junior Samantha Zarate. “It’s really open with lots of windows. It has a lot different feel than the old school.”

Furr is among 40 schools, including 29 high schools, being rebuilt or renovated as part of HISD’s 2012 Bond program. Active construction is currently underway on roughly three dozen projects — more activity than at any other time in district history. Almost half of the schools in the program will be complete and open to students by the end of this summer. Once all work is finished, the district will boast of one of the most modern portfolios of urban high schools in the country.