New Lee Elementary plans underway

 

The projected development of the North Lake Property, including the new Lee Elementary. Photo courtesy of assistant superindentent Brad Hunt.

By Nikki Dabney

Staff Writer

Former Lee Elementary students collectively shed a tear as their childhood memories of arts and crafts and monkey bars were converted into a modern and technology oriented high school.

The transformation occurred with the promise to create a new Lee Elementary in the future. That time has come.

During the 2004-2005 school year, parents’ concerns of overcrowding at Coppell High School led to the creation of committees with the task of looking for a solution to this developing problem.

At this time, every hallway was overcrowded and several teachers had to travel to teach their classes. Virtual courses and dual credit helped with the overcrowding issues, but a more drastic measure had to be taken. Several ideas were proposed, including a freshman center and a separate high school. They decided on a new high school. New Tech High @ Coppell was created and it was a success: it relieved 500 students from the population pressure.

Coppell is continuing to grow. The North Lake property is beginning development and now that the power plants have been imploded, apartment framing has sprouted. There are also new home developments that the committees did not anticipate. Homes are being built on Heartz in Arbon Manors, Old Town, Hackberry, Magnolia Park, and near The Mansions by the Lake.

More homes have led to high elementary enrollment. Grades kindergarten through four have a 22:1 student to teacher ratio restriction. Out of all the grade levels in all of the elementary schools, 16 are full. Students are being bused to other campuses and the push for a new elementary has been intensified.

The site for Lee Elementary will be on the North Lake property on the south end of town. It is the property being developed by the Billingsley Company.

There are elementary teachers and assistant principals from across the district serving on the Lee Focus Group Design Team. This group has visited campuses across the state looking at innovative designs including sustainable schools, schools used as learning tools, technology designs, and innovative instructional designs.

“The site visits have served as an inspiration to our focus group to think about how the facility should support the learning process,” Coppell ISD executive director of leading and learning Tabitha Branum said. “This group has been incredible and really is thinking of unique designs and structures to make sure this is truly a transformational school.”

A committee is working on getting a bond passed to build the new school and the vote will be in May of this year. They also plan to honor their commitment to the Lee family- the school’s namesake.

“Richard J. Lee ( a former Coppell ISD Trustee) and his family have strong roots in Coppell,” CISD assistant superintendent Brad Hunt said. “They have been supportive of the school district through its growth and changes, so we want to make sure to honor them. They are pillars of our community.”

The community has not built a new school building from the ground up since Denton Creek Elementary in 1999. This new project is called Operation Transformation. The new Lee Elementary will be a completely 21st century school, and updates will be implemented on the existing campuses.

“We don’t even want to call it 21st century,” Hunt said. “We’ve been in the 21st first century for 12 years now. We want to be cutting-edge.”

CISD executive director of technology Chad Branum is evaluating the technology options, such as different tablets and PCs versus Macs.

The environment is also a consideration when designing the new school. The companion to the bond committee is determined to make it a green school, decreasing the community’s carbon footprint, and saving the district money in the long run.

“This building will be considered a green campus by having systems in place to conserve energy use, potentially recycle water as well has having built in educational tools for data analysis such as solar panels and a wind turbine,” Chad Branum said.

While many memories were made at the original Lee Elementary, the new improvements will create space for even more lasting childhood memories.

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