Dripping Springs ISD trustees heard a presentation by representatives from Corgan, an architecture firm employed by the district, revealing site and interior plans for a new Walnut Springs Elementary School facility at a Nov. 18 meeting.
The relocation of WSES from its current facility at 300 Sportsplex Drive, Dripping Springs, to a new facility on the campus of Dripping Springs Middle School is a project of DSISD’s $132 million 2018 bond program.
Erin Ortwein, a Corgan architect, presented site plans for the facility highlighting architectural opportunities for collaboration between the schools, a factor that the district has cited as a reason for relocating WSES to the middle school campus. Ortwein noted such features as a central amphitheater for students of both schools.
Angie Stutsman, an interior designer for Corgan, discussed the interior of the new elementary school, and said designers had aimed for “kid-friendly” colors and features while still being mindful to create a design that would last as trends change.
However, board President Carrie Kroll—who attended the meeting virtually via a video call—expressed concern that the proposed designs might not do enough to provide truly collaborative spaces between the elementary and middle schools and encouraged the board to consider the issue before voting on the design.
“The middle school is sort of the redheaded stepchild that’s just getting what’s left of the remodel,” Kroll said. “I have concerns that this isn’t the collaborative design we had envisioned.”
Interim Superintendent Nola Wellman said the level of campus collaboration between the elementary and middle schools was necessarily limited by the fact that DSMS was already built, in contrast to Sycamore Springs Elementary and Middle schools, which were built in tandem.
“I do think in the next few years you will see a lot of collaboration between these two faculties, but it will take a little more effort on the part of the leadership,” Wellman said.
The board is expected to vote on the proposed design at next month’s meeting Dec. 16, by which time Wellman is scheduled to have departed the district; she said at the Nov. 18 meeting that her last day would be Dec. 6. The board's vote to approve the next superintendent—lone finalist Todd Washburn, currently at Eanes ISD—is scheduled for Nov. 21. If approved, Washburn will begin work Nov. 22.