New schools open in Tyler, more could be in future

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - By Taylor Hemness - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email | Twitter

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Monday was a big day for Tyler ISD, and not just because it is the first day of school. The district board will make its final decision on whether they will call a bond election for November 2010.

It was the first day of school at the brand new Orr Elementary in Tyler. The old Orr Elementary was built for about 300 students. During a tour of the new building Monday, School Board President Ron Vickery says space will no longer be a problem.

"There's a little over 600 students here today, and by the end of the month there should be about 700 students," said Vickery. "This is a beautiful building, and one that I think this community will cherish for a long time to come."

Now that Orr is open for students, there are just two elementaries left in the district that have not been either renovated or rebuilt: Dixie Elementary in northeast Tyler, and Rice Elementary in south Tyler.

The board also looked at a bond that would renovate both Dixie and Rice elementaries, for about $12,000,000 less. But Vickery says building new schools is about more than making the district look better.

"There are side-by-side comparisons of a student body at an old school, versus a new school," said Vickery. "Student's pride, teacher pride, community pride goes up, but the academic performance also goes up."

In addition to rebuilding Dixie Elementary, and Rice Elementary, the district has already purchased nearly 30 acres of land off of Old Jacksonville Highway for a new middle school. The cost of that campus would be almost half of the total bond, but Vickery says the board intends for these buildings to stand the test of time.

"Everybody keeps telling us that they're gonna look great for decades to come, and I certainly hope we're going to get 50, 60, 70 years of life out of these buildings, if not more," he said.

If the board decides to approve the bond Monday night, the district will also consider buying more land near Rice Elementary to facilitate the build. If they do not do that, the students there will have to be bussed elsewhere while the new school is being built.

But Tuesday is the last day the district can call for the bond on the November ballot, so the final decision will be made Monday.

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