James said the community’s No. 1 priority in the rebuild of the school was to preserve the historic gym as a gym. In the proposed schematic, the facade of the gym is preserved, but it is no longer used as a gym, and a new gym will be constructed.
“[The gym is] a place where there are parent and community events; there's parades; there are festivals and so forth and so on,” James said. “So really, when you go to Lakeview campus, it's the heart of that campus, the center of the school. So when I look at this schematic design, I'm not sure where the new heart of the school is.”
James also raised concerns about the flow of the building and the distance some students would have to walk from their classrooms to extracurricular classrooms. Due to the desire to preserve live oak trees on the school grounds, the new building will be shaped like an L with classrooms circling around the courtyard.
Several board members, including Jim Rice, said they did not want to vote against something put before them for approval without good cause.
“I’ll just caution the board that every time we delay something, there is a consequence to the schedule and to the budget,” Rice said. “So I don’t think that we should unreasonably withhold the approval of this.”
Houston-based architecture firm Kirksey Architecture is behind the redesign of the school. Members of the board expressed the firm was chosen because of its expertise in incorporating historic structures into new designs.
Nicola Springer, vice president and director of pre-K-12 projects at Kirksey, said the firm was able to accomplish what the community wanted by keeping the physical gym building and repurposing it as the new library and cafeteria.
“So I do feel, though, with the cafeteria at the center, it is still that big gathering spot, and I feel that it still has its presence as the heart of the campus,” Springer said.
An exact timeline for construction was not made available at the meeting, as the district is waiting on construction projects at other schools to progress. FBISD Chief Operations Officer Oscar Perez said officials are hoping to open the reconstructed Lakeview Elementary School during the 2021-22 school year. During construction, Lakeview students will be rezoned, and Perez said the district is considering sending students to Barrington Place Elementary School during that time.
Funding for the $33.9 million project came from the 2018 FBISD bond. The bond included a total of $403.4 million for new construction, rebuilds and additions.
First built in 1918 by Imperial Sugar, Lakeview Elementary School has since undergone several renovations. The gym building was added in the 1930s.