Massive Nederland Independent School District renovations nearing completion
Published 12:20 am Saturday, July 22, 2023
NEDERLAND — When the project manager for Nederland Independent School District’s $82 million, multi-campus renovation prepared to address the school board this week, he was met with a simple question from the superintendent.
“On time, on schedule for the start of school?” Dr. Stuart Kieschnick asked.
Ty Neild of HB Neild Contractors and Construction Managers said “yes.”
That was welcome news to the board of education and Kieschnick, who said he routinely receives feedback while out in the community and social media from area residents worried about campus readiness come next month.
The district is planning to open classrooms to teachers Aug. 1. The first official report back-to-work day for teachers is Aug. 10.
School starts for students Aug. 17.
With construction taking place in Nederland’s two middle schools and four elementary schools, the start of the 2023-24 also means a grade shuffling.
Prekindergarten-through-fifth grade students are going to attend Helena Park, Highland Park, Hillcrest and Langham elementaries, while students in grades sixth through eighth are going to attend Central Middle School and C.O. Wilson Middle School.
This is a change from previous academic years when fifth graders attended middle school campuses.
School board members toured numerous campuses last week to receive a first-hand update on construction, and Kieschnick said board members were highly impressed and felt good about the timelines.
“We’re taking Nederland ISD, facilities-wise, to a level we’ve never seen before,” Kieschnick said. “The additions to the schools, the new high school, we’re taking Nederland ISD education to the next level.”
Nederland ISD received an “A” overall accountability rating in the summer of 2022 from the Texas Education Agency, obtaining a score of 90/100 for a district with 4,995 students. The district earned an “A” in school progress and academic growth, and a “B” in relative performance.
Across all grades, Nederland ISD officials expect to educate approximately 5,200 students in 2023-24.
Nederland ISD administrators previously said they expect approximately 800 students per elementary campus for the 2023-24 academic year. The facilities could comfortably hold 900 students if enrollment called for it.
“There is going to be a lot of construction workers coming to the area,” Kieschnick said. “What we don’t know is how many of them are going to bring their families and when they are going to get here.”
Elementary upgrades include additional classrooms for music, science labs and individualized learning spaces, restroom renovations, ADA modifications, expanded gyms, cafeterias and kitchens, improved drop-off/pick-up and parking and other enhancements.
Community members would likely see the biggest change at Langham Elementary because new construction moves the front entrance to a different location.
The other three campuses have the same footprint, with front facing upgrades, new pavement and altered drive-in routes.
One of the biggest changes for the schools, when campus construction is complete, is the ability to stack cars on school property and not on the street.
During his presentation this week, Neild walked school board members through pictures and slides detailing progress on all campus, current status and expectations for the next few weeks.
Kitchen and front office work, fencing concerns and new concrete pouring were all addressed.
Neild is working with the City of Nederland to secure inspections and approvals for job completion and employee population.
“Another notable thing at Hillcrest is the 27th Street sewer line tie-ins,” Neild said. “So a portion of 27th Street will be shut down starting next Monday, the 24, and it will take about a week.”
Press box work at the football stadium is nearing completion with the planned elevator installation set before the 2023 gridiron season begins.
Work at the new Nederland High School is expected to continue throughout the rest of 2023, with students expected the begin classes in the new building for the start of the 2024-25 academic cycle.