Not so far to
go for lunch
In early February, Genoa Central High School's new, 2,000-square-foot cafeteria opened. For the previous 38 years, Genoa's high school students were transported to Genoa Elementary School cafeteria for lunch. With 2,000 square feet of dining space and almost as much kitchen space, the new high school cafeteria could hold 160 to 180 of the district's 270 high school students.
TISD honors respected
In March, Texarkana Independent School District dedicated the renovated high school cafeteria in honor of Dan Haskins, a highly respected, longtime educator, during its annual Texas Public Schools Week community breakfast.
Haskins was the first black administrator hired at Texas High School.
Forbes ranks city No. 4 in value
In early May, Texarkana, Texas' three public school districts collectively landed a No. 4 rating on Forbes Magazine's "Best Schools for Your Housing Buck" for home values under $100,000.
a field day
Arkansas High School announced a project to update its track, which took place in the summer of 2012. The $300,000 project was funded mostly by the district's Coke fund to the tune of $230,000. The district used about $70,000 from its reserve fund to complete the outlay. The Razorback track was built in 1971 and had been renovated several times.
TISD voters approved tax hike to build schools
Texarkana Independent School District voters approved a tax rate hike in November so the district can build two new schools to accommodate its growing number of students. The vote was close, with 3,059 votes for the bond and 2,759 against an additional 8.9-cent tax to raise $29.9 million for construction of a new Sixth Grade Center and an elementary school. Superintendent Paul Norton said TISD has grown by an average of 146 students annually for the past several years.
Ground Broken for Sixth Grade Center
Texarkana Independent School District broke ground on its new Sixth Grade Center. Voters approved a $29.9 million bond in November 2014 to construct the Sixth Grade Center and a new elementary
school on Gibson Lane, in the western portion of the school district, where the city has seen the most growth. Plans were for the 65,800-square-foot center to open in August 2016.
doors at two
Texarkana Independent School District opened the doors to its new Waggoner Creek Elementary School. The school was a direct response to classroom overcrowding.
Voters approved a $29.9 million bond in 2014 to construct both Waggoner Creek and the Sixth Grade Center, which also opened on the Texas Middle School campus.
Located on 15 acres off Gibson Lane, the elementary school serves approximately 400 students ages pre-K through fifth grade and can accommodate up to 700 students. The 67,800-square-foot facility features 22 classrooms, a research and design center/library, a media center, an art room, a gymnasium, a cafeteria and a kitchen.
The Sixth Grade Center is located on the campus of Texas Middle School. With 65,800 square feet, it features 23 classrooms and seven labs for art, music, the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Academy and IDEAS (Innovative Design & Exploration of the Arts) Academy and a research and design center/library, cafeteria and kitchen.
Unique 'Rock School' torn down
An historic landmark, Liberty-Eylau Primary School, disappeared from the Texarkana landscape in July, demolished in the name of progress. A new elementary building was built where the 70-year-old iconic 'Rock School' once stood.
Built in 1938 as a Works Progress Administration project, the structure once served as the Eylau schoolhouse. The plaque was placed on the new school that opened the following year. The facade now includes rocks from the original building.
Community members had long fought to keep the school from being torn down, but in May 2016, voters approved $20.9 million in bonds for district improvements, including a new, state-of-the-art elementary building. The building also houses a gym, music and computer rooms and a special education suite.
Karen Tipton attended first through eighth grades at the Rock School and began her teaching career there in 1974. Her children and grandchildren have all attended class there. She said she held her memories of the school close, but realized it was time to let go of the old and bring in the new.
"If we had had unlimited funds, it would have been awesome to have kept it," she said. "Realistically, that just wasn't a possibility. You want your kids and grand kids to be up with everybody else, and that just couldn't be there."
Razorback Stadium gets a
$4 million upgrade
Texarkana, Ark., School District invested $4 million in renovations to Arkansas High School's Razorback Stadium that were completed before the first football game against rival Texas High Tigers. These were the most significant improvements the stadium had seen in decades.
The McDougal Group Contractors oversaw the work, which included tearing down restrooms and concession stands on both sides of the stadium and replacing them with updated buildings. The stadium also got ticket booths, a Razorback store and parking lot improvements.
The renovations were part of $5 million the TASD Board of Directors approved in 2016 for district-wide improvements.
"I think the facilities are a great thing on building pride and maintaining pride. So we will upgrade it and have a state-of-the-art stadium for all of our football, soccer, baseball, track and softball events," said Athletic Director Barry Norton. "It just makes it nice all around."
TASD receives a $15 million federal magnet grant
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson visited Arkansas High School and presented the district with a $15 million federal Magnet Schools Assistance Program grant from the U.S. Department of Education. It will be paid out over a five-year period and be used for the district's Montage Project, a program that will continue the science, technology, engineering and mathematics thread from the district's elementary schools to College Hill Middle School, North Heights Junior High School and Arkansas High.
TASD is the only district in the state to receive the MSAP grant, which was one of 32 given to schools across the country. It was also one of the largest. "Arkansas is forging ahead in STEM education, and this not only fits in with what we want to do statewide and as a nation, but it also surges ahead in Texarkana, Ark., School District to lead our efforts here in the state," Hutchinson said during the presentation. "We started this initiative because it is important for the jobs and skills that are needed for the future. Right now, we have 5,500 students in Arkansas taking some type of computer science courses. We want to see that number go up."
OK new school
Voters overwhelmingly approved a measure to restructure the district's existing bonds by 30 years, generating $15.6 million for Texarkana, Ark., School District to have a new middle school. Results showed 1,111 votes in favor of the restructure and 281 against. TASD Superintendent Dr. Becky Kesler said it was one of the largest voter turnout in many years. "We're going to let our teachers design the new school," she said at the time, adding that the process would take about two years—one to design the building and another for construction.
Students in sixth through eighth grades will attend the new school, which will be built north of the interstate.
School districts build, plan new structures
Area school districts are looking to the future with construction of new schools.
At Pleasant Grove Independent School District, voters overwhelmingly approved a $19.9 million bond for a new elementary school, technology upgrades and increased security in May 2018. The bond includes $250,000 for the increased security, $1.2 million for the technology upgrades and nearly $18.5 million for the elementary school. The existing elementary building will be converted into a CTE building for high school students. The elementary school will be built on a 10-acre tract at Galleria Oaks and Christus Drive. Liberty-Eylau Elementary School, also known as the Rock School, opened its doors in Fall 2018 and includes a gym, music and computer rooms, a special education suite and four teachers' lounges. One of its three long hallways includes a safety shelter, which the state of Texas now requires for new school construction.
It was built on the site of the former iconic rock school, which was torn down for the new building. Rocks were saved from the old building, which was built in 1938 as a Works Progress Administration project. Stone masons placed those original rocks on the front of the new school to reflect the history of the old building. The school was part of a $20.9 million bond voters passed in 2016 for district-wide improvements, which also included a new Career and Technology Education building at the high school, new turf and track at Harris Field, a roof at the middle school, and heating and air systems district-wide.
Texarkana, Ark., School District plans to build a new middle school soon on the north side of Interstate 30. It will be built on a 31.743-acre tract of land between Jefferson Avenue and Crossroads Parkway that the district purchased in October from Wommack 6 Corp. for $956,000. The land will be purchased through the district's general fund, and construction will be funded through a bond restructure voters approved in October 2017. The move generated $20 million for the new school.