Thursday, August 21, 2008

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stretch of barren land and sparse scrub at the corner of New Road and Old Robinson Road may one day be home to a new, state-of-the-art University High School.';

New University High campus locale should alleviate traffic, security concerns

Thursday, August 21, 2008
By Wendy Gragg
Tribune-Herald staff writer
A stretch of barren land and sparse scrub at the corner of New Road and Old Robinson Road may one day be home to a new, state-of-the-art University High School.
The Waco Independent School District board of trustees will vote tonight on whether to buy the property for $3.35 million from Central Texas Investors Ltd. as the site on which to build the school’s new campus.
“It’s a nice place to show off a $70 million facility,” University High principal Nolan Correa said of the 80-acre tract, which is on the east side of Interstate 35, within view of State Highway 6 and interstate traffic.
Correa expressed relief about the new location as opposed to the current high school, which is not far from the old-fashioned traffic circle at Valley Mills Drive and La Salle Avenue that leaves some motorists and pedestrians baffled.
“I was really concerned about the (traffic) circle with our kids,” he said, “and now I won’t worry as much.”
The new high school is the biggest-ticket item in Waco ISD’s $172.5 million bond package, approved by voters in May. Other projects funded include a new elementary school in East Waco that is already in the planning stages, plus new Dean Highland and Bell’s Hill elementary schools.

Local community leaders hope to model the new University High facade after Seven Lakes High School (above right), the newest high school in Katy ISD. (PBK Architects photo) If school board members agree, the new University High School, the most expensive item in the Waco Independent School District's $172.5 million bond package approved by voters last spring, will arise in the rapidly developing area at New Road and Old Robinson Road, near Interstate 35 (above). (Rod Aydelotte photo)
Other projects include science lab additions for Waco High School and A.J. Moore Academy plus renovations throughout the district.
Reasons for an all-new high school included the current University High’s inadequate size and facilities for 1,155 students, as well as security concerns involving more than 80 entrances at the existing campus.
The new University High is due to open by fall 2011, with the design phase beginning this fall and construction getting under way in spring 2009. University Middle School students will move into parts of the old high school campus at 2600 Bagby Ave.
Also being voted on tonight: the look of the front of the new high school. Correa says a South Waco community group that recently gathered public input favors the look of Seven Lakes High School in Katy.
Another land acquisition up for a vote tonight: 14 lots on Paul Quinn Street in East Waco from Robert Denton for $174,800. Purchase of those lots will allow the district to expand the site of the current J.H. Hines Elementary School.
J.H. Hines and Doris Miller elementary schools are being consolidated as a new elementary in East Waco. The current J.H. Hines campus has been chosen as the preferred site for the new school. The board is also expected to vote tonight on the schematic design and look of the front of the new elementary school.
Board members, who also will set the 2008-09 budget and tax rate, will meet at 7 tonight in the Waco ISD Conference Center, 115 S. Fifth St.

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