Leander ISD is making progress towards opening two new buildings for its Science Materials Center and 18+ Transition Services program for special education students.

District officials and construction and design representatives presented the design and preliminary renderings for the joint facilities at a March 7 board meeting.

Zooming out

The district’s current Science Materials Center stores and distributes science kits for elementary classrooms while the 18-plus Transition Services program teaches special education students ages 18-22 skills to transition into adulthood.

The new facilities are needed as the current Science Materials Center is too small to serve a growing number of elementary campuses, and the 18-plus program lacks a permanent location, Superintendent Bruce Gearing told Community Impact. The 18-plus program is currently housed in portables behind Cedar Park High School and at the Twin Lakes YMCA, said Kimberly Waltmon, Assistant Superintendent of Special Programs and Services.

The adjacent buildings may allow 18-plus students to work in the Science Materials Center, Gearing said.

Zooming in

The two buildings will be located on 9.1 acres of land off New Hope Drive next to the district’s central transportation facility, Construction Project Manager Brian St Clair said. The property features space for future expansions and will include a covered canopy between buildings and outdoor trails, he said.

Details for the 18-plus Transition Services Building include:
  • Cost: $22.2 million
  • Funding source: 2023 bond
  • Square footage: 33,900
  • Features: fitness room, apartment living space, classrooms, sensory spaces, conference rooms, offices, commons area, commercial cooking lab, community sales lab where students can sell their creations
Details for the Science Materials Center include:
  • Cost: $19.8 million
  • Funding source: 2023 bond
  • Square footage: 30,000
  • Features: training facilities for curriculum staff, 10-13 working areas, workroom, storage areas for science materials and textbooks, loading dock for trucks
The impact

With around 125 students currently, the new 18-plus building will allow the district to expand the program with a capacity for around 150-200 students, Waltmon and St Clair said. The new campus is intended to look and feel like a community college to help students embrace their independence, Waltmon said.

The new Science Materials Center will include enough space to house all of the district’s instructional materials in one location, including textbooks and materials from math and language arts departments, said Brenda Howard, Science Materials Center senior specialist. The expanded center may feature more than double the amount of working areas at the current center, she said.

Quote of note

“This building is working for the students in it,” Place 6 board member Francesca Romans said about the 18-plus building. “It’s facilitating the things that they need and making it easier for them to concentrate on the skills that they’re learning instead of the environment that they're in.”

Stay tuned

The projects are currently in the design phase with construction expected to begin in August, according to a presentation at the meeting.

Both facilities are scheduled to open in the fall of 2025, according to the district’s website. The district has yet to officially name the facilities, Place 4 board member Anna Smith said.