When classes start this month, families in Pasadena ISD will see more results of previous bond packages with the opening of a rebuilt Mae Smythe Elementary School and the addition of 32 new buses equipped with seatbelts.
“We live in such a great community and thank the citizens of Pasadena for supporting the Pasadena ISD bond packages which have provided our students new facilities, buses and fine arts equipment,” district board president Mariselle Quijano said in a statement that noted the opening of the new Mae Smythe school, which was rebuilt at its previous site at 2202 Pasadena Blvd. in Pasadena. “On behalf of the Board of Trustees, thank you to our community for your continued support.”
The Mae Smythe campus was rebuilt to accommodate a larger enrollment capacity through $19 million from a 2014 bond issue.
The 32 new buses, funded through $3.2 million from a 2017 bond package, bring the district’s current fleet to 338, said Robert Stock, the district’s transportation director. He said that 20 older buses were auctioned.
The new buses are assigned to routes scattered throughout the district, Stock said.
Seatbelts are not being added to existing buses in the fleet, which consist of models from 2017 or earlier. All district buses used to transport students in special education programs already have seatbelts, Stock said.
Other bond-funded projects are set to begin mid-year in 2019.
Constructed may begin in May on a new school, Riverstone Ranch Intermediate, in the rapidly growing Southbelt area. The school will likely will be built on Country Club Drive in Pearland, south of Southbelt Elementary School and east of Highland Meadows Drive. A final address for the campus has not been determined, said Kevin Fornof, the district’s associate superintendent of facilities and construction.
The Riverstone Ranch school, which will cost $45 million according to Pasadena ISD’s bond web page, will span 178,500 square feet and accommodate 1,200 students. Work is expected to be completed in June 2021, with the school opening for the fall 2021-22 school year.
According to district documents, Riverstone will serve as a replacement to Thompson Intermediate School, 11309 Sagedowne Lane. Thompson will be repurposed and not used as a campus once Riverstone opens. Students previously attending Thompson will either attend the new Riverstone Ranch or another nearby campus, district spokesman Jade Wise said.
Next summer, work may begin to replace Red Bluff Elementary School’s facility on the same site of the current campus at 416 Bearle St. in Pasadena at a cost of $24.8 million.
Built in 1955, the school has 560 students, and enrollment capacity will be boosted to serve 750 through the planned project. The rebuilt campus will feature flexible spaces designed as teaching tools, energy efficient design, natural lighting in all classrooms, a large courtyard for an outdoor teaching area and a gymnasium and a cafeteria separated with a movable partition for large assembly functions, according to Fornof.
Construction will occur in three phases, he said, but will allow students to remain on campus while work is being done.
The first phase starting in June 2019 will involve demolishing two academic wings and the gymnasium.
Other upgrades in the bond package include a maintenance operations warehouse facility, safety upgrades around the district, technology equipment, fine arts instruments and facilities management costs.