For Principal Rita Graves, it is impossible for her to pick a favorite part of the construction project at Lamar High School.
The $122 million project, part of the 2012 Bond Program, brings several improvements to the campus, including a new, state-of-the-art academic wing, renovations to its historic original building, and enhancements to the athletic fields.
For more than 80 years, the red-bricked Austin High School
has been a mainstay in the Eastwood community. With construction nearing
completion, the new school now strikes a balance of the past and present.
The $80.9 million project features modern classrooms,
flexible learning spaces, and sound and lighting upgrades to the existing
auditorium. The Art Deco-influenced façade also has been preserved and
refurbished as a part of the project.
“This school has been here for more than 80 years. It was
important to keep a part of this building that has been present in this
community for so long,” Austin Principal Steve Guerrero said. “The entire
building is just phenomenal. It feels very grand with lots of natural light.
Every single part of the building is exciting.”
For the past three years, Carla Garcia and her 9-year-old daughter
Kaitlyn commuted about 25 minutes every morning to get to Mitchell Elementary
School, despite living just across the street from the school.
The original Mitchell was damaged beyond repair when
Hurricane Harvey hit in 2017, forcing students and staff to move about nine
miles away to the former Caldwell Elementary School — their temporary home for
the past three years.
With the new and improved Mitchell nearly complete, Garcia
and Kaitlyn will once again be able to walk to school in the mornings.
The Houston Independent School District is restricting access to
all district schools and facilities from Friday, July 3 through Sunday,
July 19, in response to public health guidance and an increasing number of
COVID-19 cases throughout the city.
All summer athletic practices and in-person summer school sessions
are canceled. HISD students will be allowed to keep laptops until the fall
rather than return them to campus, eliminating the need to bring additional
staff and families on site.
The district continues to operate
virtually and will continue to provide educational and related services during
this disruption of normal district operations.
Employees reporting to a location as a part of their assigned duties
will continue to practice social distancing and wear appropriate personal
protective equipment in accordance with district policy and public health
guidelines. The Hattie Mae White
Educational Support Center will remain open for limited purposes.
Construction at Bellaire High School is now more than 50
percent complete, with the new school expected to be ready for students this
time next year.
Crews have installed the roof structure for the new building,
which includes wings for academics, fine arts, and physical education. The
academic wing is now closed in and air-conditioned, with construction crews currently
working on the finishing touches, including tiling and flooring.
Crews also are working on overhead construction in the
auditorium high ceilings, digging out the pool and diving well, and
construction of the interior walls in the athletics area. Air conditioning is
expected to be flowing through the entire building by the end of July.
Although the Houston
Independent School District is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic,
construction work has continued on several 2012 Bond realignment projects
across the district.
Realignment projects are new,
board-approved projects that were not part of the original scope of work but
are funded by surplus bond funds. The projects include natatoriums at Milby,
Washington, and Yates high schools, Westbury High School’s fine arts wing, and
Sharpstown International School’s dining canopy.
Milby’s natatorium is 98
percent complete. Construction Services is coordinating with HISD Technology
and HISD Security Maintenance for remaining minor work. The pool will be ready for
the 2020-2021 school year.
The new Austin High School is now scheduled to open in
January 2021 — a delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The school was originally scheduled to open in August 2020.
HISD Construction Services Officer Derrick Sanders said the new timeline was
due to a three-month delay in the school’s furniture shipment and manpower
shortages caused by mandated social distancing requirements resulting from the
Austin will remain at its current temporary learning center
located across South Lockwood Drive until the new facility opens.