Keep packing those lunches, Highland Park Middle School parents. The cafeteria’s completion date has been delayed a little farther.
Jonathan Aldis, a principal with the SHW Group architecture firm, told Highland Park ISD trustees Tuesday that the earliest day that food service can begin would be Nov. 11. Although the expanded seating area probably won’t be finished until Nov. 18, he said the cafeteria, which also serves McCulloch Intermediate School, will be ready for city inspectors the first week of November.
“That’s a pivotal week,” Aldis said, “because the assumption is we fill get a final approval somewhere in that week … that will allow [cafeteria manager Brenda Vardell] and her staff to actually move into the kitchen and begin doing training. She’d like to actually get her staff in and trained on the equipment before she opens for student service.”
When the cafeteria’s expansion first made news last spring, the timeline called for construction to be completed a month into the fall semester. A few days before classes started, administrators announced that the kitchen would not be operational until late October.
Aldis and Superintendent Dawson Orr said the latest delay was due to issues with a firewall, issues that they said had been resolved to all parties’ satisfaction.
Last week, New York Sub and Chick-fil-A began delivering meals to the cafeteria, lightening parents’ burden so they wouldn’t have to pack lunches five days a week. That arrangement was supposed to last through October, but district spokeswoman Jacki Moran said it will likely be extended.
Board of Trustees president Leslie Melson thanked Aldis for overseeing the project.
“It’s a big project,” she said, “and I know the kids are real excited to get in there.”
On that last point, Aldis couldn’t agree more.
“After seeing them eat in there, I can imagine they are very excited to open that space,” he said. “That is an amazing show that goes on in there every day. Unbelievable. I’m sorry you had to go through that, but give it a few weeks; it’s going to be great again.”