Pro/Con: Building a new high school
September 14, 2018
It is time for a change: Coppell is in great need of a new high school
At Coppell High School, our hallways are bustling with people; conversations are loud and blurred, and you can occasionally hear the sound of a kid playing a straw kazoo in the sea of teenage stress.
The halls smell of excessive Axe and not-so-discreet sweat stains. It is impossible to block out the waves of people and frankly, I feel like my personal space is infringed upon. The problems of over population have become clear to many.
The reality is that Coppell needs a new high school.
Coppell is a growing town. In order to accommodate this growth, Coppell ISD built CHS9 this year, but it is not enough. Signs of growing infrastructure and new housing have become synonymous to our landscape. It would be foolish to believe that CHS9 will be a permanent solution to accommodate the influx of people.
“CHS9 helped and that it’s a stop gap for a little bit, but there’s new house development going up everywhere,” CHS GT/AP history teacher Diane De Waal said. “We’re not a small town, and I know that Coppell ISD doesn’t just mirror the parameters of Coppell.”
In fact, CHS encompasses areas of Irving and Dallas.
“We are having a lot of growth in our southern districts, but overall when you look at other surrounding districts such as Frisco, we aren’t really a fast growing district,” CISD trustee Leigh Walker said. “We’ve just had this current pop that’s different for us.”
Walker elaborated later that these “pops” were hard to predict in the course of over five years. We may not be considered a fast growing district in technical terms at the moment, but what is to say another future “pop” will not change that? A new school will be needed in the next five to 10 years to accommodate for growing numbers. CISD has taken notice of this and is having a board meeting in October where one of the topics to be discussed will be the growing demographics.
Another benefit is larger classes make it difficult to have a concept personally explained, and this problem will only worsen. That does not mean the teacher is not doing their best, but with so many students, the task is almost impossible. A new high school would make the Coppell learning experience more personal and help the performance of students.
“Certain courses would benefit from having less kids,” De Waal said.
A new campus would create a local rivalry between CHS and a new school that would increase school spirit in both establishments. School pride would not waver or diminish as critics of the plan may state.
“I don’t think it would affect the school pride at all. Even if it did, that’s not what we go to school for,” CHS junior Angie Smith said.
By moving freshmen back to the high school campus, they would be able to take part in high school traditions, maybe even elevating the school pride. When I first arrived at the high school, I enjoyed being able to rally behind the football team in the student section, where pride is never lacking. Freshmen cannot share that experience now. How can they really feel they are a part of us when they have been moved to another campus? Not only that, they face the uphill battle of having to adapt to a new school twice in two years.
“[CHS9 students] are probably not going have as easy of a time adapting to to the high school,” Smith said. “For me, I would’ve been kind of sad not going to Coppell High School, I would’ve wanted to have the real high school experience. The freshmen are kind of segregated from the rest of us.”
Overpopulation. Lack of a personal learning environment. Preserving school spirit and unity. The solution to all of these problems lie in the construction of a new high school in Coppell.
New high school: Possible solution or terrible mistake?
The hallways of Coppell High School during passing period are full of life, bustling with students on their way to next class. Some might say the hallways are too packed.
The solution seems simple: build another high school. But is that what Coppell really needs right now?
With a new high school comes a multitude of new electives and technology, as well as transportation to account for – all of which will take a toll on the district’s budget. Last year, Coppell switched the bus service to Durham School Services which cost roughly $500,000 to $550,000. One can only imagine how drastically the transportation costs would increase with the addition of a new high school.
“We are bussing kids everywhere,” Coppell ISD Board of Trustees President Tracy Fisher said. “We have more bussing costs than we ever have. We have fewer kids that are driving now in high school than we did 10 years ago or five years ago [which] is definitely impacting our transportation costs.”
With a new high school in addition to this current trend, CISD will have to pay a significantly higher amount to accommodate the students that are choosing not to drive to school.
Fisher is currently trying to figure out a way to not let the high transportation costs affect the quality of students’ learning.
Transportation costs associated with the addition of a new high school are something that CISD cannot manage right now due to the recent addition of CHS9 and the new Coppell Middle School West.
Over the years, Coppell High School has developed a culture in which young students in Coppell elementary schools and middle schools look forward to attending either CHS or New Tech High for their high school education. A new school would mean this tradition, which has lasted more than 53 years, would gradually fade out of significance.
“The culture and traditions of Coppell run deep in this community,” Coppell High School assistant principal Nick Coenraad said. “We see kids grow up as Coppell Cowboys. They know from the time they are very young that we are all Coppell Cowboys.”
This culture is important to Coppell and because CISD has never had more than one major high school besides CHS, it is hard to say whether these traditions will last. The anticipated changes that Coppell would expect are unpredictable and could affect our town negatively.
From football games to the T-shirts sold for fundraisers, we can see the traditions that our town has developed and fostered for several years. If and when a new high school is created, new customs would be created, potentially overshadowing CHS’ long-standing traditions. Will these traditions continue? Will they still be a part of Coppell?
Coppell has been growing and growing, adding more and more students in every grade. One of the benefits of CHS9 is how it reduced the number of students on the CHS campus. New facilities such as these might be the solutions that Coppell needs.
In order to pay for the new high school and the costs associated with it, Coppell voters would have to approve a bond package. However, if this bond is approved, the residents of Coppell would have to pay higher taxes to pay for the creation of a new high school.
“Residents would decide if they are willing to increase their taxes a small percentage to fund a new building,” Coenraad said. “Buildings aren’t cheap, especially like one of a high school this large.”
It’s true. Buildings are not cheap. In fact, the conversion of the former Coppell Middle School West into the current CHS9 costed about $27 million. Even more astonishing, the new Coppell Middle School West costed close to $55 million. If these facilities cost so much, a new sustainable and modern high school would be a different ballpark.
After the recent construction of CHS9 and the new CMS, a raise in taxes seems like an ill-advised decision for everybody in Coppell.
However, there is no reason to stress over the answer to the crowded halls. Improving upon pre-existing facilities such as CHS and CHS9 might be the key that CISD and many Coppell residents have been searching for.
“I think that I would be more supportive of an upgrade or renovation of the current Coppell High School,” Coenraad said. “Renovating the current Coppell High School and turning the ninth grade center into a ninth and 10th grade center would maintain the one comprehensive high school, Coppell High School.”
In the far future, if needed, a new high school may be appropriate, but between the transportation, cultures and traditions and taxes, building a new high school now would be a step in the wrong direction.