DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A Walmart. A jail. Two structures that come to mind for some Highland Park Independent School District parents when looking at plans for a new elementary school.
Historic Hyer Elementary School will soon be on the chopping block. It’s part of a more than $360 million bond package that includes rebuilding three elementary schools and adding a fifth one. But it’s the potential design of the new Hyer that has residents going door-to-door, leaving fliers.
“It just looks sterile, not inviting. Something more like an office building, not a school,” says University Park resident and future Hyer parent Tonya McKinney.
She and others are concerned that the district is considering making Hyer a three-story building, similar to the new University Park Elementary and Bradfield Elementary, where residents launched a similar battle.
“That was one of the reasons we built here, because it looked so quaint and so small and such an inviting place for the kids,” says University Park resident Heather Hoxworth.
“[It’s] a gargantuan size building. It’s not quaint, and I worry about special needs children on the third floor. I worry about little kids climbing up stairs,” says McKinney.
Another concern: property values.
“I think everyone’s property value will go down a lot,” says Hoxworth.
District spokesperson Jon Dahlander says the concern is premature, as the district is still reviewing designs, and no decisions have been made about the height of the new building. Residents hope when Hyer is leveled and rebuilt next year, their voices will be heard.
“We’re just hoping for a discussion and a compromise, and we can all meet in the middle and find a solution that makes the entire community happy,” says Hoxworth.
Dahlander also says, “There will be opportunities for the public to review and provide input on the design, prior to it being finalized. The goal is for the architecture to incorporate historical elements of the original building, to complement the surrounding neighborhood, and to reflect the character and history of HPISD.”
There are five upcoming city council or school board meetings that residents plan to attend to voice their concerns.