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New DISD school on way

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

Work expected to start in October on elementary in Lantana development

Officials with the Denton school district said they expect construction on the district’s 22nd elementary school to get underway around Oct. 1.

On Tuesday, the school board voted 7-0 in approval of a guaranteed maximum price of more than $17.76 million for the new school to be built in the Lantana development. The project is being funded by the 2007 bond referendum and officials said they’re hopeful that the school will be completed in time for a fall 2014 opening.

It was announced in February that $1 million is being donated by the Lantana Education Charitable Foundation, also known as the Lantana Foundation, to offset project costs.

“I’m delighted. We’re going to have an extremely energy-efficient building and just in time because we’re getting really crowded,” said board President Charles Stafford.

Superintendent Jamie Wilson said the addition of a new elementary school to Lantana, a residential development in the district’s southern region, will allow for growth in that area and also relieve overcrowding at elementary schools in the area.

The new school will be the third built in Lantana. In May, the school board approved the sale of $45 million in bonds from the $282 million bond package approved by voters in 2007 to fund construction of the new elementary school, land purchases and planning costs for a fourth high school.

According to district officials, most projects approved for the 2007 bond referendum, excluding the new elementary school, have been completed.

According to a 2013 second-quarter enrollment growth report presented during a workshop discussion Tuesday, Blanton and E.P. Rayzor elementary schools, the two schools in Lantana, are near or above functional capacity. The district constructs each elementary school to accommodate 740 students.

Data presented Tuesday in a separate report showed enrollment at Blanton and E.P. Rayzor were at 769 and 685, respectively, on the 10th day of school, which was Sept. 9.

Bob Templeton, president of Templeton Demographics, told board members during the workshop that without a new elementary school, enrollment at Blanton and E.P. Rayzor — based on figures from this summer and not the 2013-14 school year — are expected to climb to 759 and 680, respectively, by the 2014-15 school year and to 796 and 707, respectively, within the next five years.

Current attendance figures show the two schools are at or above the projected enrollment forecast for the 2014-15 year.

District officials have said the new elementary school, which will offer about 88,000 square feet of space, will be built on 12 acres north of FM407 and west of Copper Canyon Road in Lantana’s Fairlin neighborhood.

Sharon Cox, a district spokeswoman, said attendance boundaries for the new elementary school have not been determined, but students impacted could include those living in the Lantana neighborhood and south of FM407. She said meetings regarding proposed attendance boundaries for the new school are expected to get underway in November.

Balfour Beatty Construction is managing the school’s construction.

According to district officials, the new school will include several “green” designs and sustainable features such as natural topography, a geothermal heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, and “expansive windows” that will bring natural light into classrooms.

Rainwater and surface water collected from the site will be dispensed into an “eco-pond,” and district officials say the process will be incorporated into school curriculum.

Paul Andress, the district’s director of operations, said he intends to receive the construction permits for the project within the next few days. Work still left to do prior to starting construction includes excavating the site and doing some “dirt work,” he said, and relocating a utility line.

Over the course of the project, there will be about 300 construction workers involved, Andress said.

“We’re ready to go,” he said. “I think everyone is eager to go, to get started on it.”

BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876 and via Twitter at @BritneyTabor.