The Wylie school district will begin work on a new campus on Colony Hill Road as soon as July 1, after the school board took steps at its last meeting to pay for the facility.
The new campus will be an elementary and will house the students in grades Pre-K through 1st grade who live east of US Highway 83/84. Students in those grades who live west of 83/84 will go to the Wylie Early Childhood Campus.
The campus is slated to be finished in one year and will open for the 2018/19 school year. It will mark the first time in Wylie’s history that students in the same grades have gone to different campuses.
“We’ve already started,” Wylie superintendent Joey Light said. “It’s started as in paperwork started. I’m hoping we can physically start the 1st of July. That’s a hope.”
The construction is Phase 1 of an expansion project along Colony Hill Road between Maple and FM 1750. This summer, the board will consider other phases, what they might be and how they will be funded.
The new elementary will be located at the south corner of Colony Hill Road and Maple streets. The board also owns property farther down Colony Hill Road on the opposite side of the road that could be used for a future Junior High.
Phase 1 is expected to cost about $10 million. To pay for Phase 1, the school board agreed during its June meeting to issue $4 million in Maintenance Tax Notes and $1 million in Time Warrants. These are basically loans that do not require a bond election. The other $5 million will come from money the district has already earmarked for construction.
The Maintenance Tax Notes technically cannot be used for construction. But by using this money to pay for other maintenance costs in the budget, the board will free up money to put into its construction fund.
The new building is necessary because of continued growth in the district and the resulting enrollment increases.
Light said the Middle School is already crowded and can no longer accommodate two grades. The board has discussed the possibility of building a new Junior High. However, that type of project could not be completed in time to ease the current enrollment problems. So the board decided to start immediately with Phase 1 and spend this summer considering long-term solutions to the enrollment increases.
“This will take care of the immediate bottle neck at the Middle School,” Light said. “But the train is coming down the track. I just don’t see that stopping. We are going to have to make a decision do we want a bond election to build the remainder of that campus and for a Junior High. That will be a decision that we make this summer.”
Once the new campus is completed in 2018/19, it will allow the district to move 5th grade down to the Intermediate, keep the 6th grade at the Middle School and adjust the lower campuses accordingly. The Intermediate will house 4th and 5th-graders. The Elementary will house 2nd and 3rd-graders, and the ECC and the new eastside campus will each house Pre-K-1st-graders.
Light said he estimates the ECC will have about 500 students and the new east-side campus just under 400.