EXTREME MAKEOVER

In January 2006, after four years and six phases of addition and renovation construction, Duncanville Independent School District will have one of the largest high schools in the United States, with 836,137 sq. ft. under one roof. Duncanville is a suburb just south of Dallas.

While planning for their 2001 bond election, the school district had to address the outdated and overcrowded conditions affecting their campuses. The original high school was 40 years old. Through the years, the campus had acquired 11 different buildings to accommodate its population.

“We needed a 21st Century school to support a 21st Century curriculum,” says Dr. Jerry Cook, superintendent of Duncanville ISD. Though the district struggled with choosing between one gigantic high school and two smaller ones, the decision was actually made by the community. Dr. Cook explains,“The community would not support splitting the high school and the school district must serve its community.”

Once the decision was made to stick with one high school, the issue became whether to have a campus plan or to consolidate all functions under one roof. In considering how to best address the growing enrollment and aging facilities, the need to enhance student safety and school security emerged as a primary concern. With so many buildings occupying the existing site, administration was familiar with the challenges of monitoring student activities throughout the campus.

“We had to answer the question of how plausible it was to manage security risks in a lot of different buildings,” says Mike Elmore, SHW Group project manager.“When the answer seemed clear that it was not, student safety concerns led school management to decide on one big school to minimize the number of building entries and other potential security nightmares.”

To plan for optimal safety features, SHW Group, the architects for the project, recommended a full Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) review. CPTED is defined as “the proper design and effective use of the built environment to reduce crime and the fear of crime, resulting in improved quality of life.” A consultant who had previously been president of the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) was brought in to lead the review.

During the CPTED review process, local police, fire chiefs, school district staff, school resource officers, project architects and engineers got together to decide what was needed to control and monitor building access and activities. Due to the limited number of administrators in such a large space, additional security is being provided in the limited number of building entries, complemented by a full surveillance monitoring system with 160 cameras. This system also allows the school principal to tap into the surveillance system from his home via the Internet.

When completed, the building will include over 500,000 sq. ft. of new space and 350,000 sq. ft. of renovation. As the senior project manager for Hunt Construction Group, L.G. White commented, “We are literally building all the way around the existing school; not one original building surface will be exposed when we finish construction.”

At the west end of the building is a separate ninth grade house with its own classrooms, science labs, gymnasium and cafeteria. The east end holds classrooms, science labs, gymnasiums and a shared cafeteria for grades 10 – 12. In the middle of the building are the areas shared by all grades, including the library, fine arts areas and an extensive career and technical division.

Duncanville High School will open with 3,700 students and has a 4,000-student ultimate capacity. With a budget of $90,300,000, it was recently ranked by Texas Construction Magazine as the 12th largest project to break ground in Texas during 2003.

BY SCOTT MILDER, CPSM MILDER IS VICE PRESIDENT FOR COMMUNICATIONS WITH SHW GROUP, INC. AND A MEMBER OF THE COUNCIL OF EDUCATIONAL FACILITY PLANNERS INTERNATIONAL (CEFPI). HE CAN BE REACHED AT .

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