Fifth- and sixth- grade students who showed up for the first day of classes at Keller’s new Vista Ridge Middle School were greeted by smiling teachers and a still active construction zone.
The school at 8145 N. Riverside Dr. in Fort Worth, was built to address the needs of the booming Interstate 35W corridor, near Old Denton and Thompson Roads.
The abundant summer rains had a domino effect on the project with delays of three to four weeks. While most of the building interior is complete, work continues on exterior portions of the campus.
“We would have liked to have a little more work done outside,” said Hudson Huff, executive director of facilities services. “We had specific construction activities scheduled for certain days, and often we had rain delays.”
Concrete pours for different purposes on the property scheduled throughout the summer sometimes encountered multiple rain delays.
Huff said the construction construction crews will continue putting finishing touches on the exterior, completing sidewalks and irrigation systems, and remove the protective film from some of the siding.
On the inside, most everything on the ground floor was ready for staff and students, but a few “punch list items” and clean up needed to be done on the second floor, Huff said. The second floor classrooms won’t be needed this year. In the main gym, crews were installing bleachers, but the smaller gym was ready for P.E. classes.
Huff said a batch plant to produce concrete for the Thompson Road extension was set up in front of the school. Work crews couldn’t work on the irrigation systems until the road was finished and the concrete equipment was removed. Landscaping will wait until fall weather arrives.
The building capacity of 1,000, currently has 250 students and 50 staff members. The $40 million campus, part of the 2014 bond package, will add seventh-graders next year and eighth-graders in the 2019-20 school year.
"Significant development south of the school will start to take shape in the next two years," Huff said.
Two large neighborhoods — one directly to the south slated for more than 700 homes (yet to be developed) and half-built West Fort Ranch with 1,300 total homes on the other side of Interstate 35W — should produce plenty of future students for the campus, Huff said.
Administrators said the additional operating cost of adding a 42nd campus to the 34,600-student district is about $2 million a year, which covers administrators, support staff, utilities and routine maintenance.
Basswood and Sunset Valley elementary schools feed into Vista Ridge, which is part of the Fossil Ridge High School feeder pattern. Fossil Ridge is just a mile east of the new campus.
Last spring, community members voted for the name of the school, the mascot (Lions) and colors (red with accents of black and white).