Dallas School Board facing some expensive decisions for Dallas Elementary

By Eileen Godin - egodin@timesleader.com | June 28th, 2016 10:36 pm

DALLAS — The Dallas School District could be looking at $11.5 million in upgrades to the Dallas Elementary School or a larger price tag for construction, according to a feasibility study released Tuesday night.

Mark Barnhardt, senior vice president at E.I. Associates, an architecture and engineering firm, presented the study to the Dallas School Board as well as over 65 parents and faculty members in the Dallas High School Performing Arts Center.

The 44-year-old Dallas Elementary School building, the oldest facility on the district’s campus, has had problems with plumbing, heating and cooling issues and needs electrical upgrades to support computers, district Superintendent Thomas Duffy said.

“The building sits on a concrete slab,” Duffy said. “There are at least three to four pipe breaks a year. The HVAC system is antiquated.”

The feasibility study highlighted three options for the district.

The first option, costing an estimated $17 million, involves building a new addition off the existing gym to house third, fourth and fifth grades. The new construction could be all one level or two stories, Barnhardt said. The old prefabricated Dallas Elementary School would be demolished.

Wycallis Elementary School would be reconfigured for kindergarten, first and second grades.

A second option, costing about $14 million, would need a smaller addition constructed off the gym for fourth and fifth grades, Barnhardt said. In this scenario, Wycallis Elementary would house kindergarten through third grades, which would require the construction of five new classrooms.

All plans are centered around utilizing the gym for good reason. The gym was built in 1997, Duffy said.

The final option, to renovate and update the current facility, would cost the district about $11.5 million dollars, Barnhardt said.

The study is based on a 20-year outlook using estimations in enrollment, educational programming and the district’s current facilities, Barnhardt said.

Using state estimates on student population, grades kindergarten to fifth grade could see potential growth from the current 1,176 students, housed in both Dallas Elementary and Wycallis buildings, to a 1,236 to 1,310, he said.

The state projections on enrollment are “historically wrong in Dallas,” district Business Manager Grant Palfey told Barnhardt.

“The state projections are from 2011. That is the most current year available,” Palfey said. “The state’s enrollment numbers are based on birth data and does not include families that move into the district.”

The study opened doors of communication with the community as attendees questioned the logistics of student transportation and the cost of rebuilding a new school elsewhere.

“There is a lot of work ahead of us if we decide to move forward on this,” Duffy said.

By Eileen Godin


Reach Eileen Godin at 570-991-6387 or on Twitter @TLNews.