The Aledo ISD board of trustees unanimously approved the early design phases for the new middle school No. 2 as well as the Aledo Middle School renovation project Monday night.
Huckabee architect firm Associate Principal Shannon Bearden presented the schematic designs during the regular AISD board of trustees meeting. The design was put together based on feedback from students, AISD staff and the community.
“It is a very compact design, so all of your academic functions and athletics tie in nicely together with a linear north/south spine. The building does front Old Weatherford Road,” Bearden said. “At the front you have a sector of academics and admin, in the middle you have the library and dining — your heart of the building — and then towards the rear you have your more active programs such as fine arts and athletics.”
For the academics sector, Bearden said there will be 12 general classrooms encompassing the front of the building on the ground floor and upper floor. The classrooms will be 725 square feet. There will be three science lab lecture rooms that are 1,500 square feet each and there will be large, widened corridors for additional collaboration spaces outside of the classrooms. Each wing will have its own set of restrooms and teacher work centers.
Lifeskills and special education will have its own wing with a separate entry for drop off and pick up and CTE classroom spaces will be on the ground level and open to the courtyard for outdoor classroom extension.
“In the center is the library and that would serve as an open collaboration space — all of the book stacks and the furniture would be movable, so you can reorganize this space as you need,” Bearden said. “In fine arts, your stage and theater arts are right off the dining to allow for a cafetorium feel. In the fine arts bloc you have dance, band, choir and theater arts and we have worked very heavily with those departments to make sure this is exactly what is needed for these students to be successful moving forward.”
The athletics sector for Aledo Middle School No. 2 will have a competition gym that seats 600-650 people and a practice gym, which will double as the school’s storm shelter and house the entire population of the school. The practice gym will be able to seat 250 people.
The school overall will have many windows to allow for a lot of natural light during the day.
“I showed these [designs] to my son who will be a senior next year and he was amazed,” AISD board member Jennifer Taylor said. “So we’re getting compliments from students. He wasn’t involved in any of the process, so this was just based off the schematics.”
Bearden highlighted the renovation project for the current Aledo Middle School.
“The goal is to provide equity and bring new life to Aledo Middle School, to make it a building that you don’t recognize where old and new collide,” Bearden said. “We went back to those community meetings and looked at what you like from the past, what do you want to leave and what do you want to take forward with you. The biggest thing that just kept popping up was we need daylight in these spaces, so that was No. 1 for the school along with adding square footage to meet the program.”
The revamped entry of the building will face Farm-to-Market Road 1187 and will have added visitor parking, utilizing the land where the baseball field was.
“We’ve taken advantage of the baseball field. The baseball field is mainly going away because of that widening of [FM] 1187, so we needed to fix that because that’s the first part you see so we’ve added parking, which also helps us with our bus loop,” Bearden said.
Bearden said the floor plan of Aledo Middle School will look quite different from the bond plan and there will be four courtyards around the school.
“Where the old gym is has now turned into fine arts. We determined that the old gym would have to be fully renovated in order to support the structural load for a cafeteria, so the next best option to not have to fully renovate that space was to put fine arts there and take advantage of the high ceilings,” Bearden said. “The courtyard space that runs north/south has a massive amount of underground utilities and would be very costly to move. It’s not advisable to build a structure over that entire length because of the utilities so we decided to depart from that slightly.”
Bearden said things have shifted with the classrooms because of the small size.
Lifeskills and special education will have their own entry for classrooms. Collaboration space will also be added outside of classrooms. Corridors were also added for better travel throughout the school.
“This building has several paths of circulation that they can traverse to get throughout the rest of the building. Adding these corridors allows them to go throughout the building without having to go through [other grade levels],” Bearden said.
Bearden said they will have to get creative with bringing in natural light for the seventh grade wing.
Additional square footage will be added to the building to allow CTE spaces and visual arts and a courtyard will be available so students can utilize it off those spaces.
The plumbing lines will be checked and expanded, Bearden said, but the number of restrooms overly meet the capacity of the school.
“I know going into this there was a lot of talk about the plumbing issues and being able to flush everything,” AISD board member David Lear said.
Bearden said the library and cafeteria will feel like the heart of the building.
“We’re still creating pockets of academic spaces and separating those activities of fine arts and athletics and really celebrating the cafeteria and library being one open space to one another. It will feel like it’s the heart of the building. The library is going where fine arts currently is,” Bearden said. “The kitchen will move to where some of your art classes currently are and so we’re going to take advantage of all of the space there, which will triple the size of the kitchen.”
The agriculture building will be removed to allow for eighth grade science labs.
“We did look into the ag building to determine if it was feasible to renovate it and use it as square footage and it just didn’t meet the program needs that we needed,” Bearden said. “It was determined that it would be most beneficial to build the new science labs where that currently exists.”
The new practice gym will serve as the storm shelter and house the boys and girls physical education locker rooms.
“We wanted to match the look and feel of the new Aledo Middle School No. 2, same concepts of giving it that new look so you don’t know that parts of it were built in the 1950s and 1960s as you drive by it,” Bearden said. “Thank you for allowing us to be on this project, we are very excited about this.”
The board approved the two schematic designs and for more information visit aledoisd.org.