New Construction

DFW-Area District Plans New Middle School

The Richardson Independent School District in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex recently approved a budget for the construction of a new middle school. The district’s board of trustees voted on April 11 to approve $81 million toward the construction of the new Lake Highlands Middle School. The new facility will stand three stories tall and have the capacity for about 1,500 students.

“We are very excited for this,” said RISD Assistant Superintendent Sandra Hayes. “This is the first time that the district has taken on creating a new school since the early 2000s, with the exception of Memorial Park Academy. We're very excited to get this off and running.”

Construction is scheduled to begin this summer and finish by August 2024, according to local news. The project is part of a wider district initiative to move from the junior high school system (in which sixth-graders attend elementary school) to the middle school system (in which sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders attend middle school).

After construction on Lake Highlands Middle School is complete, the district plans to demolish the existing junior high school and use the space for middle school amenities like parking, flatwork, paving, tennis courts, site lighting and landscaping, according to local news. The project’s total budget—including demolition and site renovations—is $94 million. Funds will come from a $750-million bond package from 2021.

The budget does take into account the increased price of construction. “Back in 2019-20, new construction in the metroplex was running around $300 a square foot,” Hayes said. “Currently, at the price that we're seeing industrywide, the cost per square foot is about $350 now due to escalation. That’s what we’re seeing in the construction world and hearing from our neighbors that are also building schools.”

The district’s goal is to convert all junior high campuses to middle school campuses by the 2030–31 school year, according to a district presentation.

About the Author

Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning. He can be reached at [email protected].