Following the recommendation of the Dallas City Plan Commission earlier this month, City Council unanimously approved on May 25 Highland Park ISD’s request to rezone property bought from Northway Christian Church to build a fifth elementary school.
HPISD’s success means that they will be able to stay on track with their ambitious construction schedule. At the latest HPISD board meeting May 17, school board facilities chair Jim Hitzelberger said construction was set to begin in June, contingent on City Council’s approval.
He also promised availability and communication from the board with neighbors and the greater community throughout the process, which will include “extensive meetings with neighbors” and a hotline to call during construction.
Neighbors to the property who have expressed concerns about the school’s size worked with City Plan Commissioner Margot Murphy and with the board in the months leading up to the CPC’s vote, and the size and setback restrictions to the building plans are largely a result of these discussions.
Jennifer Staubach Gates, councilwoman for district 13 where the school will be built, acknowledged it is “still a very big school in the middle of a neighborhood, but we know that schools belong in neighborhoods.”
Gates praised the “community effort” behind the planning of the building, thanking the neighbors for making it a better school, and the board for hearing the neighbors’ concerns.
Hitzelberger said at the board meeting, “I do want to … say how much I appreciate Jennifer Gates, and Margot Murphy and the work she put in with the neighbours, and extend a thank you to them [the neighbors] as well.”
He also thanked everyone who came to City Hall for the CPC hearing, at which the room was nearly full, for “showing an interest in our community; whether for or against, it makes it better.”
Now that they can move forward with construction of the new school, the board is expected to announce the schedule for rebuilding the three other elementary schools set to be updated as part of the bond package. If all goes according to plan, students from the first school to be rebuilt will attend the new school in 2017.
Update: HPISD has announced their construction schedule for rebuilding UP, Hyer, and Bradfield Elementary schools. It can be viewed in full here.