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MCISD considers demolition vs. renovation of high school buildings

MISSION—A workshop was held Jan. 30 for the Mission CISD Board Facilities Committee and Bond Oversight Committee to discuss proposed demolition, reconstruction and structure additions to Mission High School.

Though the project will not begin until the summer of 2014, the MCISD board hopes to approve the final additions and changes within the month.

The board has been on the fence whether demolition or reconstruction would be in the best interest of the district. Mission Parks and Recreation & Facility Maintenance Director Julian Gonzalez, a member of the committee for the project, explained they just want to do what is best for students and what is most cost effective.

President and CEO of ERO Architects Eli R. Ochoa explained, administrators at the high school had specific requests and concerns they hoped would be addressed with the reconstruction.

These concerns included: security issues, the need for centralized classrooms, convenient visitor parking, a visible front door to the campus and placing administration in an easy to find building. Ochoa added that the chilled water system was close to needing replacement and the aged air conditioning system was an energy hog.

“If we could create a functional layout of the campus we could basically take care of the campus for the next 30 years,” Ochoa said.

The board considered reconstruction over demolition as a cheaper way of upgrading buildings and using the saved funds elsewhere. But some of the buildings are small, older and limited in space. Concerns brought up by Mission High School staff included no storage space, no break rooms, no restrooms (in some buildings) and an air system that fluctuates drastically in temperature.

In the proposed layout by ERO Architects, two buildings, along with portables on the north side of the campus would be replaced by a larger, L-shaped building that would hold close to 60 classrooms.

MHS Principal Jose Lopez said he and his staff were pushing for the new two-story building, so that it will house 80 percent of staff and students in one area.

The proposed two-story building will sit on the north side of the campus at the intersection of Cummings Avenue and 18th Street.

“The new wing would help us in addressing security concerns,” Lopez said. “Although, it would be easy to just say our campus was designed to be open and that it gives us this college feel. The bottom line is that we are not a college; we are a high school.”

MHS staff added, the lack of technology and educational tools is also a major concern they hope is addressed in the new building.

“If we are truly looking at improving Mission High School, then simply renovating this campus is not going to come close to meeting these goals,” Lopez said. “Visit any high school from Rio Grande City to Port Isabel and I believe you will find classrooms with interactive white boards, document cameras …(and) other instructional technology that is available.”

Board member Oscar Martinez questions if buildings will be left unoccupied if 80 percent of students would be located in one building.

Lopez and staff said that the extra space would allow teachers to have more storage areas, assign specific classrooms for organizations and clubs to have their own practice spaces. He added the campus is at 1,900 students and is still growing.

The board is scheduled to take up a possible vote on school’s future at a meeting on Feb. 13.

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CoverageAreaThe Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.

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