In an effort to prove their goodwill in keeping neighbors involved in the upcoming elementary school renovations, the Highland Park ISD board has chosen four community members to serve on a committee that will meet monthly with developers and board members during the five-year construction process.
The Design and Construction Committee, which first met in September, will meet for the third time this month. The community members – Michelle Davis, Jerry Grable, Karl Hirschey, and Michael Malone – were pulled from within the business and development sector to assist with concepting, budgeting, and making recommendations to the board on construction-related issues.
“Not only are each of them parents of current or former students,” board superintendent Dr. Tom Trigg said in a press release, “but they each bring significant experience and insight that will help us best manage the resources entrusted to us as a result of the recent bond election.”
The $361.4 million bond that passed last November allowed the district to begin building a new elementary school at the corner of Northwest Highway and Durham Avenue and to renovate each of the existing elementaries, which have long been thought to have inadequate facilities and resources for a growing student population.
At its latest meeting in October, the committee looked at early previews of design diagrams for UP Elementary, which will be the first school rebuilt, in 2017-18.
Malone said the design will share elements the architects “learned and developed in the fifth elementary.” For instance, classrooms are grouped in pods of six or seven with shared common areas and restrooms, a design developed with a committee of teachers from the elementaries.
“You’re going to see all the really interesting and innovative educational things happening across the district,” Malone said.
Although the schools will share key modern design elements, according to Malone, each elementary will look different since the neighborhoods’ characters are different.
“The district has learned to be very mindful of the neighbors’ feelings,” he said.
The zoning process for building the new school, already made difficult because the property is in Dallas city limits, proved challenging for the board when neighbors directly adjoining the property mobilized to restrict elements of the building that they found unacceptable to their neighborhood (including height, setback, and general aesthetic), but the board found necessary.
Involving neighbors in the new committee is a way for the board to provide outreach for dissenting voices.
Malone has historically supported the board in their bond proposals, but because he has been active in the school facilities issues for years, he believes he has earned credibility with the community.
“The district is hoping when our neighbors ask us about it we’ll be able to say no, really, this is important, and here’s another way of looking at it.”
Although he said it would be inappropriate for him to have design influence, since he works for another architecture firm, he said if he or neighbors had concerns, he would address those with the board.
However, he is confident in a positive response.
“These buildings could be more efficient and compact, and hopefully at the end there will be more green space around them because there won’t be so many wings and [they won’t be] spread out,” he said.
One change he suggested to the board is that instead of presenting bird’s eye view renderings from architects, they show neighbors street-level views with new landscaping to better reflect the building’s aspect and how it will fit into the neighborhood.
Design and Construction Committee
Director of marketing for Northwood Retail
Belles Spaghetti Supper Chair (former)
Two children currently enrolled in HPISD schools
Park Cities real estate
Facilities Advisory Committee member
University Park City Council member (three terms)
Snider Plaza/Hillcrest Strategic Plaza Committee chair
UP Civic Foundation officer
Council Liaison to UP Parks Advisory Board and UP Employee Benefits Committee
Three children graduated from HPHS
Three grandchildren enrolled in HPISD schools
Managing director for Trammell Crow Residential
More than 30 years of experience in construction and development management
Treasure Street at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children board member
Two students enrolled in HPISD schools
Founding principal of Malone Maxwell Borson Architects, Inc.,
Immediate past president of Texas Society of Architects
Central Dads Club president
Two children graduated from HPISD schools
Two children enrolled in HPISD schools