Progress always comes with growing pains.
That was an underlying theme as the Citizens Bond Oversight Committee toured Arlington High School this week.
The committee was scheduled to tour the major addition under construction at Arlington High on Wednesday evening before its quarterly meeting. But the rain made the construction site unsafe for visitors.
So, the tour took a detour. Arlington High principal Stacie Humbles showed the committee areas of the existing building that are receiving renovations and areas where students and teachers are making the most of the upheaval caused by the construction.
The construction, funded by the 2019 Bond, is going to provide incredible improvements for the school. The project includes an addition with new classrooms, a new library, a new band hall and more. It will help provide the space needed for the future fine arts and dual language high school academy that opens next school year at Arlington High and will ultimately add around 800 students.
While the huge addition is the most noticeable part of the project, there’s a lot more going on, including renovations for the existing building’s mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, the athletic fields and more. Over the winter holiday, new flooring was installed in Halls A and B, and C Hall will be done over the summer. Ultimately, the project will mean significant upgrades for all students.
But in the meantime, there is a lot of transition. Programs have had to move to temporary locations and make do with the limited space.
“There are so many aspects of a build like this that take thoughtful planning,” Humbles said.
She has been engaged throughout the project in that thoughtful planning along with the project manager, general contractor, architect and campus and district staff. Together they are constantly coordinating everything from program adjustments, parking changes, egress changes, temporary signage and so much more.
While the many changes can be inconvenient, everyone is making the best of it.
Like the choir program. Choir had to move out of its original room and carved out practice space on the stage of the auditorium. The auditorium itself has become a bit of a catch-all as a classroom and storage room, full of costumes and props for drama and theater.
Band lost its old room, too, and has moved to a gym that previously housed wrestling.
Humbles praised her faculty and Arlington ISD fine arts director Dr. Christopher Anderson and his department for going above and beyond to make sure that the temporary fine arts spaces – like choir on the stage in the auditorium and band in the old wrestling gym – were optimized as much as possible. In the temporary band hall, for example, the wrestling mats were replaced with carpet, sound panels, curtains and instrument storage that transformed the space into a highly functional music room.
“In the meantime, we have really important kids,” Anderson said. “We have to take care of the kids who are in there and ensure they are having a first-rate experience even if it’s in a temporary location.
“The good news is that when these program land, it should be pretty spectacular.”
Arlington ISD assistant superintendent of facility services Kelly Horn shared a similar thought as the tour wrapped up.
“There’s sacrifice, but the gain is going to be significant.”
Citizens Bond Oversight Committee
The Citizens Bond Oversight Committee’s charge is to follow the district’s bond program progress and report its findings and recommendations to the Arlington ISD Board of Trustees (read the CBOC’s charge). The committee meets quarterly and then develops a report of its findings and recommendations that it presents to the Board of Trustees in or around June.