Keller ISD teacher, students converting school bus into home on wheels

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A Keller ISD teacher and group of students are braving Texas summer temperatures as they convert an old school bus into a home on wheels.

Since the beginning of June, Matt Quattlebaum and 10-20 students have been meeting twice a week to work on what the group calls the “skoolie.” Their aim is to convert the bus into an RV-like living space.

So far, the group has removed the bus’s seats and the rubber matting on the bus’s floor. They have also insulated and painted the floor to make it rust proof.

Next steps will include framing each of the skoolie’s living areas. Once completed, the bus will have about 200 square feet of livable space complete with vinyl flooring, cabinets and storage, a kitchen, a shower, a composting toilet, and living room and bedroom space.

Quattlebaum also said the group wants to make the skoolie at least partially solar powered.

Quattlebaum, who teaches civil engineering and architecture at Keller Center for Advanced Learning, said he has been a fan of the tiny-house movement, which advocates for creating and living in small homes. He and his family have built their own tiny cabin.

When he saw an old school bus in a KCAL parking lot, he saw the opportunity for another small living space. KISD had originally planned to convert the bus into a mobile classroom but decided to use a trailer instead.

Quattlebaum learned that the district planned to get rid of the bus and pitched the skoolie idea.

From there, he began recruiting students to help repurpose the bus. The group working on the skoolie includes a group of Quattlebaum’s students, as well as students from KCAL’s construction, automotive and interior design programs and other KISD high schools.

“I want to be an architect and this project is an interactive way to understand what goes into building a house,” said Gabriella Doe, an incoming sophomore at Timbercreek High School.

The skoolie will take about two years to complete, Quattlebaum estimates. Once the 2019-20 school year starts, the group will be working around schoolwork and extracurricular activities.

The project is also looking for funding to continue converting the bus. Quattlebaum was able to begin work using $150 left over in his engineering budget during the 2018-19 school year. KCAL also gave him another $1,000 to buy paint to insulate the bus’s floor.

Quattlebaum said he hopes to start a booster club for the project. He would also like to work with the KISD community to fund and find the supplies needed for the skoolie.

“Ideally, we’d like for this to be a community project,” Quattlebaum added. “It’s all students doing it. I’d like for them to be able to connect with community partners that want to help in whatever way.”

Plans have not been finalized on what will happen to the skoolie once it is is completed. But Quattlebaum and his students hope to use it to benefit the community.

“I thought it would be a good opportunity to create something for a good cause,” said Jonathan Duhan, an incoming sophomore at Timbercreek High School.

Keep track of the skoolie’s continued progress through its Instagram account and Tik Tok account.

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Korri Kezar
Korri Kezar graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2011 with a degree in journalism. She worked for Community Impact Newspaper's Round Rock-Pflugerville-Hutto edition for two years before moving to Dallas. Five years later, she returned to the company to launch Community Impact Newspaper's Keller-Roanoke-Northeast Fort Worth edition, where she covers local government, development, transportation and a variety of other topics. She has also worked at the San Antonio Express-News, Austin-American Statesman and Dallas Business Journal.
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