Mansfield News

Schools gain ground on construction

Walking through clods of red clay, columns of steel and across slabs of wet cement, it’s hard to imagine that a year from now -- and 50 years from now -- wide-eyed children will settle into desks to learn their ABCs.

Construction on the new J.L. Boren and Alice Ponder elementaries has suffered some setbacks, thanks to some ugly weather, but the school district still expects to be able to move into the schools during Christmas break.

“We’re a little behind schedule,” said Jeff Brogden, assistant superintendent for administrative support. “We had freezing temperatures when we couldn’t do any masonry. It’s only 30 days. We’re going to catch up over the next six months.

“We should be substantially complete in November and ready for furniture,” he said. “Ideally, we would be able to move over winter break.”

The 85,000-square-foot buildings will be identical inside, but have their own personal looks outside, reflecting the surrounding neighborhoods. Ponder, located at 102 Pleasant Ridge Drive, will have a $13.5 million pricetag and “a lot more curved metal and glass,” like nearby Mouser Electronics, Brogden said.

“We did a lot of modifications to save two big trees,” he said, along with a stand of post oaks on the east side of the property that were never in danger.

Boren, located at 1400 Country Club Drive, will cost $13.9 million and “be more of a traditional red schoolhouse,” like the houses around it, he said.

Ponder and Boren are the second and third elementary schools of five that will be replaced as part of the $198.5 million bond package approved by voters in November 2011.

The first replacement school was Tarver-Rendon Elementary at 6065 Retta Mansfield Road, which opened in August. If all goes according to plan, a new Glenn Harmon Elementary will open in the fall of 2016 and a new Charlotte Anderson Elementary in the spring of 2017. Alice Ponder students are currently attending school at the old Tarver-Rendon building, 12350 Rendon Road, while Boren students are at Judy Miller Elementary, which opened at 403 N. Holland Road in August. Harmon and Anderson students will take turns rotating through Miller while their schools are being built, then Miller is expected to open as its own school in 2017. All schools are being constructed on their original sites, except for Tarver-Rendon.

All five schools will have identical floor plans and be constructed with energy-efficient insulated concrete forms, stacked foam trays reinforced with rebar and filled with concrete and backed with a layer of brick on the outside of the buildings.

“It’s a 50-year design, but it’s going to last longer,” Brogden said. “This school could be here for 100 years. It’s a great design and if it’s well-maintained, it will go long past that.”