Although a significant amount of work remains to be done, Superintendent Kevin Rogers said at a July 15 school board meeting that he is optimistic it will be ready in time for students.
“[As] for [the expected date of] completion, I don’t know because we’re doing stuff out of sequence right now to try to get kids in," Jon Moreau, the Texas education vice president for Balfour Beatty Construction, told Lewisville ISD trustees at the board meeting.
Although some areas of the building are nearly done, others still do not have drywall, flooring, lighting or fully installed ceilings, Moreau said. His crew continues to make significant progress each day, he said.
Rogers was scheduled to do a walk-through of the school July 18 to get a clearer picture of the progress. LISD Chief Communication Officer Amanda Brim told Community Impact Newspaper mid-afternoon July 18 that an update on his site visit was not available.
In May 2017, voters approved a $737 million bond, part of which was allocated to replace College Street Elementary with a new school on Mill Street in order to expand its attendance zone. According to the district’s website, Mill Street Elementary is intended to help prevent overcrowding at other nearby campuses.
Brim said the district expects 625 students to be enrolled at Mill Street Elementary when it opens.
District staff have been working on contingency plans since early June when they first learned from contractors that they might not be ready in time for the start of school.
Even if the school is ready in time for students to start there on the first day of school, it will not be completely finished. Moreau said there are “a few odds and ends” inside the building as well as outdoor landscaping that will need to be finished on nights and weekends.
The polished concrete planned at the entryway requires the entire area to be restricted for an extended period of time. Moreau said this cannot realistically be done before school starts, so it will be completed during the winter holiday break. He added the concrete is sealed, so it will not sustain any damage in the interim.
“We still believe that we can still have students there for the first day of school, but, you know, I’m not going to bet on that until I walk it and have some further conversations,” Rogers said. “But that’s certainly still our plan.”
As far as a contingency plan, Rogers said students slated to attend Mill Street Elementary have attended other district schools in the past and will just revert to those locations.
“You have to remember these students are coming from existing schools, so they just wouldn’t go to their new school, they’d stay at their existing school,” he said. “The question that we’ll have to decide, and there’s several options, is: How long would you keep them at their existing school? Would you keep them for the whole semester, would you move them after the first nine weeks? So those are the kind of options that we have, but it’s not like that these are students aren’t going to have a place.”
The school will undergo a city inspection Aug. 9, and, if it passes, the district will receive a certificate of occupancy. If this happens, teachers will get the chance to set up their classrooms the weekend before school starts.
Acknowledging teachers may be pressed for time when moving into their classrooms, Rogers said the district will provide support.
Trustee Kronda Thimesch noted the meet-the-teacher night is typically held Aug. 9.
Rogers said arrangements for meet-the-teacher night had not yet been made. The district will ensure parents and students get a chance to meet their teachers before school starts, whether it occurs within Mill Street Elementary or elsewhere, he said.
“We’ll do the communication,” Rogers said at the board meeting in regard to updating parents about the school and events. “What I’m saying is we’re not prepared to do that until after this Thursday, to where we have to make some of those decisions. But after that, we’ll certainly communicate well before school starts numerous times in different avenues.”
Brim told Community Impact Newspaper that a time and location have not yet been determined for Mill Street Elementary’s meet-the-teacher night, but the district will directly communicate with parents and the public as soon as the details are finalized.
An abundance of equipment and materials as well as multiple contractors could be seen on the site July 18.
At the board meeting, trustee Angie Cox told Moreau that she hopes he is calling in every contractor at his disposal to help get the school ready.
“I know you understand, but this is so important,” Cox said. “We are down to the wire now.”
Editor's note: A sentence in this report was adjusted to clarify that only a portion of a bond approved by voters in May 2017 went toward building Mill Street Elementary.