Amarillo ISD starts construction to keep up with growing city

As Amarillo continues to grow, it's putting a strain on the school district. It's scrambling to find ways to accommodate a demanding student population.

It's because of that, in October the board approved a multi-million dollar construction bid.

In the last several years, Amarillo has seen new housing additions popping up. That means, more students the school district needs to take in. But that growth is putting a strain on it.

"Our district has seen about a 3,000 student increase in the last five years. So that's like adding another high school and middle school to our district," said Holly Shelton Amarillo Independent School District Spokeswoman.

In fact, Shelton adds, that the district's current student population is 33,332. That's close to their all-time high of 34,067 back in 1968. That's when the Air Force Base was still in Amarillo.

So last month, the school board passed an $11.7 million construction bid. Adding, 38 classrooms to schools like Palo Duro High School, Emerson, Eastridge, Margaret Wills, and Tradewind Elementary schools. Sanborn Elementary will get a new cafeteria. The current one will be used as classrooms.

"There's just a handful of schools that are in a situation where there's some crowding and they're really having to be creative to find places for classrooms within the building," said Shelton.

Tradewind Elementary is one of those campuses getting creative. Using portables and closets to accommodate their student growth.

"We have cleaned out some closets and we use those areas to have small group tutoring and stuff like that. Three years ago we started adding in portables we started off with 320 students our first year and now we're at 637 today," said Kim Bentley, Tradewind Elementary Principal.

Tradewind Elementary will be adding six new classrooms. Construction is already underway and is expected to be done by the new school year.

Shelton said AISD is getting the money from a fund balance, which is basically a savings account it uses for major capital improvements like this.