Brownsboro set to unveil new elementary school

BROWNSBORO (TYLER MORNING TELEGRAPH) — When classes resume after the holidays, it will be like the first day of school when the new Brownsboro Elementary School opens on Jan. 3, Principal Brian Ralson said.

Parents will take their children into new classrooms from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m., and then tour the school before teachers and students settle into the routine of a regular school day on their first day in the new school.

The new Brownsboro Elementary School for prekindergarten through third grade sits on a 56-acre tract of land about a mile west of town on Texas Highway 31.

Constructed at a cost of about $13.6 million, it contains about 73,500 square feet of floor space with about 30 classrooms, including two classrooms for severely handicapped special ne­eds children, two intervention classrooms and two computer labs.

Just before dismissal for the holidays, wide-eyed pupils were transported from their old school for their first look at the new Brownsboro Elementary School where they visited the classroom they will attend after the holidays.

Meanwhile, teachers unpacked and put curriculum materials in place.

"The kids are so excited; They are in awe of the size (of the building) compared to what we have now," Ralson said.

"Teachers are the ones who make the difference in education, but I am proud for the students and teachers and community to have a place they can be proud of for their children to come and learn," Ralson said. "We want this to be a place where kids are excited about coming to learn."

Ralson, who is in his 12th year as principal and has served in the district in various positions a total of 19 years, said he is thrilled to be part of the move into the new school.

A ribbon-cutting and grand opening ceremony is planned for late January or February, he said.

The new Brownsboro Elementary is part of a district-wide facility improvements package funded with a $27.26 million bond issue voters approved in August 2010.

Renovation and an addition to Chandler Elementary already have been completed, while the next project will involve converting the old Brownsboro Elementary for use by Brownsboro Junior High.
Faculty, staff and maintenance crews have done "an outstanding job" of packing and moving from Brownsboro Elementary's old campus, Ralson said. "It's been a smooth transition."

Rachel Vassar, a reading intervention teacher, paused in preparing her new classroom and said, "It's amazing. I think it (the new school) is going to bring a whole new environment and excitement in the middle of the (school) year when kids are kind of tired of coming to school. There's going to be a brand new excitement, like starting over."

Third-grade teacher Sherri Chambers said the new classrooms are "very nice, very neat and very clean. It's nice to have something new and clean and fresh. Kids are very, very excited."

Reading teacher Angela Volentine said of her classroom, "It's great. … The kids are excited. We love it. It's beautiful and the kids will have more room."

The new school's library is larger and has an adjoining computer lab. The cafeteria also is larger and has a stage. Cafeteria tables can be folded into benches for programs.

The old gym was a small metal frame structure with a tile floor, while the new school has a full-sized gym with a wood floor.

Classrooms are equipped with more computer outlets, projectors mounted in the ceiling and storage space. "The majority of the classrooms are bigger than what we had," Ralson said.

The new school has two playgrounds and is configured in three wings. One wing is for prekindergarten and kindergarten, another wing is for first- and second-graders and a third wing is for third grade.

The administrative area will house the principal, receptionist, secretary, student support services, diagnostician, conference room, teacher break room, teacher work room and two restrooms.

Trophy cases will display several academic awards the school has won through the years.

Throughout the school are graphics, such as flags painted on the walls in the cafeteria.

The school was built to accommodate expected future growth, Ralson said. Enrollment currently averages about 460 students, but the maximum capacity of the new school is about 700.

The new school has security features to heighten safety, the principal said. Outside doors will stay locked and anyone entering the school will have to come through the office, he said.

The contractor for the construction was WRL General Contractors, of Flint, and the architect was the Tyler firm of Eubanks, Harris, Roberts, Craig Architects Inc.


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