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Selwyn works on plan

Profile image for By Britney Tabor / Staff Writer
By Britney Tabor / Staff Writer

School officials hashing out details on rebuilding parts of campus after fire

Selwyn College Preparatory School officials said they intend to establish a building committee and discuss rebuilding the school that a fire destroyed in January.

At a school board meeting last week, Peter Doncaster, son of the school founder John Doncaster, presented school officials and parents with planning and programming information for rebuilding the school.

Ben Harris, who once lived in one of the residential apartments on the Selwyn campus with his wife and children, presented the group with information relating to restoring the campus’ dining hall.

He is the director of engineering with Fort Worth-based Huckabee architect, engineering and management firm.

A fire Jan. 26 destroyed Selwyn’s 50-year-old main building, which housed classrooms, administration offices and the school kitchen.

Since the fire, school officials said lunch has been served at picnic tables and in classrooms and kindergarten to fifth-grade classes have been taught in once-vacant classrooms on the campus and in portables provided by the Denton school district.

Doncaster, an architect with architecture, design, planning and consulting firm the Gensler firm in Dallas, presented the steps that generally go into constructing a new building, including planning how the building will be used, hiring a design team, design development selecting a contractor, bidding and the actual construction process.

He estimated such a project could take 18 months to two years to complete.

“What we’re going to do now is we’re going to establish a building committee,” said Mellina Stucky, school spokeswoman. “Once we have the building committee established, the building committee will establish a schedule.

“We need to define all the problems that we need to solve.”

The immediate needs, Stucky said, are to build structures for kindergarten through fifth-grade classes and to restore the dining hall.

Harris said it could cost nearly $150,000 to restore the school’s Moody Dining Hall. The entire east wall was damaged in the fire. Harris told those in attendance at a recent board meeting that the project could cost about $94,000 in masonry work and $50,000 for electrical and heating, ventilating and air conditioning or HVAC work.

Harris’ firm has offered to do the engineering design work for the project at no cost, but the district must raise funds for the masonry, electrical and HVAC work, Stucky said. Huckabee has done several projects with the Denton school district and other districts across the state, she said.

A nonprofit private school, Selwyn is funded through student tuition, annual contributions from Selwyn families and fundraisers, Stucky said.

The insurance claim negotiations for the campus’ portion destroyed by fire are ongoing, said Clarke Stephan, the school’s finance director. While significant contributions for replacing supplies and rebounding from the fire have been donated, there has been no money contributed for new buildings, he said.

Monte Jensen, board president, said knowing the amount of the insurance claim settlement and money collected through fundraisers will give them a better idea of their next steps.

Stucky said it’s an exciting time. The Selwyn alumna said she remembers the excitement of her parents and John and Robin Doncaster in building the first facilities on the campus in the 1960s. Although it’s been tragic to lose those facilities to fire, she said she and the children of others who helped built the first facilities on the grounds get to experience some of the excitement of their parents as they look to construct new facilities.

BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876. Her e-mail address is .