Talk about curb appeal.
Lamar Middle School is undergoing a $16 million renovation that calls for flipping the campus entrance to the west — the back of the building — so it faces Third Street instead of First Street.
Framing for the expanded modern entrance has been installed and construction will take place this coming school year.
“Most of the work will be done this year and through next summer,” Christian Hernandez, Temple Independent School District spokesman, said. “We’re not expecting for that project to be completed until September of 2020.”
The school — built in 1955 at 2120 N. First St. across from Miller Park — is named for Texas politician and soldier Mirabeau B. Lamar, the “father of Texas education.” The campus has had some renovations in the past, but this year’s project will bring the aging campus up to date with a new entrance, library, kitchen and dining area, outdoor learning space, common spaces and offices.
Renovated spaces will include fine arts, classrooms and athletic spaces as well as updates to electrical, mechanical, and heating and air-conditioning systems. New parking spots will be constructed near the new Third Street entrance.
The renovations are part of district-wide projects funded by a $136.5 bond that voters approved in 2015.
“Temple ISD has touched every campus with money from this bond,” Dr. Bobby Ott, TISD superintendent, said.
“When Temple ISD put the bond election to a vote, we made a promise to be good and careful stewards of community money and to improve our schools,” Ott said.
Two portable classrooms will be removed from the campus once construction is completed, Hernandez said.
“The good news is that the portables were not being used for core instruction so it won’t be displacing math, English, science classes and the like,” Hernandez said. “As we’ve learned over at the high school, sometimes you’ve got to play musical chairs to make improvements on capital projects. I wouldn’t say we were overcrowded, but there wasn’t available spaces for some extracurriculars.”
Traffic patterns at the school will be the same as last year, he said.
“The construction process has affected traffic, but those changes were implemented last year,” Hernandez said. “Campus administration, in conjunction with the transportation department, have an organized system in place that picks up and drops off traffic across the front of the school so that First Street in front of the school becomes a one-way, southbound road” on school days.
The traffic plan also affects buses and cars going to the campus, Hernandez said.
Lamar, in addition to rigorous district curriculum, serves students in grades sixth through eighth. It offers students educational opportunities in the areas of engineering and manufacturing as a pathway to the district’s high school programs.