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District picks site for school

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

Fourth comprehensive high school to be in Paloma Creek area

The southeast corner of Navo Road and U.S. Highway 380 in the Paloma Creek area will be the site for the district’s fourth comprehensive high school.

On Tuesday, Denton school board members voted unanimously, 7-0, on the site for the next high school.

“I’m very, very happy about being able to locate a school close to so many kids,” said Charles Stafford, school board president. “That will save a lot of money, and it will be a safer situation for kids to get there.”

In a previous interview, Stafford said that because of the site’s location, half of the students attending the school could walk there, which would likely result in future transportation savings.

The district closed on property for the new high school site, which totals about 66 acres, for an undisclosed amount March 7, Superintendent Jamie Wilson said. The district is in negotiations to acquire additional land near the site, he said.

This will be the first high school built in the far eastern region of the school district. Denton’s high school students now living along the 380 Corridor currently attend school at Denton and Ryan high schools, both of which are within Denton city limits and a nearly half-hour commute from their homes.

The decision for the new high school site came down to two options. The other site considered is approximately 140 acres the district owns at FM720 between Martop and McCormick roads in Oak Point.

“We’ll use that for a future school facility,” Wilson said of the property.

Stafford said last week that plans to widen FM720 don’t currently extend to U.S. 380 but stop at the school district’s Oak Point property. He suspected there would be traffic issues on the two-lane road if the district placed a facility at the site anytime soon.

“Hopefully by the time we’ll need it for a facility, the state will have improved the access to the site,” Stafford said. “It’s so choked up now, it’s impossible.”

The new high school is the first in the 2013 bond being pursued by the district.

Plans are underway to open the district’s next high school along the 380 Corridor with freshmen, sophomores and juniors in 2016.

District officials say the school’s initial phase will be built for 2,400 students but could potentially expand to accommodate more than 3,000.

An estimated $149.6 million is earmarked for the school’s construction from the $312 million bond approved by voters last November.

Wilson has said a $3.5 million allocation from the 2007 bond funding the new high school’s design will expedite the project’s completion by one year.

According to a district media release, the school is being designed by VLK Architects and will include large classroom spaces, conference rooms for teachers and students, “robust technology integration” and “separated traffic areas for students, parents and buses.”

Other features include an outdoor learning space equipped with an amphitheater for class and performance use; a teachers common area in each “academic house of the school”; a library equipped with print and electronic resources, electronic-book access and an abundance of charging stations for electronic devices; and shared parking for school activity and athletic event use.

“It’s going to be a really drop-dead, impressive structure, and I think it will reflect very positively on Denton,” Stafford said. “I think it’s among many things that’s going to make Denton look much more attractive.

“It’s going to start a wave of good things, and it should.”

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