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Denton ISD renames Lee, sets site for new elementary school

The Denton school board unanimously approved new names for two of its elementary schools — one that's already standing and another that hasn't been built.

Board members voted unanimously to rename Robert E. Lee Elementary School, located at 800 Mack Place in Denton, for veteran African-American teacher Alice Alexander. They also voted unanimously to name the district's 24th elementary school for the U.S. 380 Corridor subdivision that surrounds it: Union Park.

Two speakers asked the school board during an October meeting to consider changing the name of Lee Elementary, named after the Confederate Army commander. One speaker suggested Alexander, who taught in Denton ISD for 45 years and was the daughter of Fred Moore, a civic leader and the city's first African-American principal.

Alexander died in 2007 at age 100. The school will bear her name at the beginning of the 2018-19 school year.

Schools named after Confederate soldiers and officials have been a point of contention in several communities in Texas. Dallas ISD unanimously passed a resolution to consider renaming four schools named after Confederate officers by February. San Antonio's North East ISD recently changed the name of Robert E. Lee High School to Legacy of Educational Excellence (LEE) High School.

"We had been talking about naming a school for Ms. Alexander for quite some time and we felt strongly that it should be a school in Southeast Denton, a community that she championed throughout her career and life," Denton ISD board president Mia Price said. 

Union Park Elementary will sit on a 21-acre site at the corner of Bryan Road and Union Park Boulevard in the Union Park master-planned community along U.S. Highway 380, north of Little Elm. Union Park developers donated the site to the district, and board members will approve a construction price for the school in the coming months.

Denton ISD officials said they expect to break ground on the school in January with a projected opening for the 2019-20 school year.

The school is the final construction project in the $312 million bond package voters approved in 2013. It is also the 10th district project to be built in the U.S. Highway 380 Corridor, more than a decade after the first, Providence Elementary School, was finished in 2004.

The school board also approved modifications to attendance boundaries for Cross Oaks and Providence elementaries to prepare for new subdivisions along the 380 Corridor. 

Oak Hill Ranch and Prairie Oaks will start construction in 2018 and bring more than 1,000 future lots to Denton ISD. Both developments are currently zoned to Cross Oaks Elementary School, located at 600 Liberty Blvd. in Cross Roads.

Under the new boundaries, developments east of FM720 will be rezoned to Providence Elementary School, located at 1000 FM2931, about 3 miles north of Cross Oaks. That means children living in the Oak Hill Ranch subdivision would attend Cross Oaks, while those in the Prairie Oaks subdivision would go to Providence.

Parents can also start planning family vacations with the approval of Denton ISD's 2018-19 school calendar

The 2018-19 school year is set to start for students on Wednesday, Aug. 14, with an end date of Thursday, May 23. Students and staff will get a full week off Nov. 19-23 for Thanksgiving and March 11-15 for spring break. Students will get out for the winter holidays on Dec. 20 and return to school on Jan. 8.

CAITLYN JONES can be reached at 940-566-6862