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Growing Pains

Leadership to initiate ten year plan to compensate for population growth

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Growing Pains

Kaitlyn Vana

Kaitlyn Vana

Kaitlyn Vana


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As Celina continues to see buildings and neighborhoods exceed maximum capacity, the district and city leadership have set in motion a 10-year plan to compensate for the growth. Current construction projects include a new wing on the high school and the possibility of adding a new junior high, elementary and stadium.
“We’re currently all collaborating on what’s the best plan as far as our culture is concerned and what Celina needs to look like in a 10-year time frame,” assistant superintendent of maintenance and operations Bill Hemby said. “We are running out of room, and we are running out of time. Everybody in this community knows what kind of problems we face with our facilities.”
The new grammar school, Donny O’Dell Elementary, is the first successful production of this strategy, has begun its opening year as a fully functioning school. Even with this new addition, administration tells the community to expect two to three more built within the next five years. To compensate for growth at the high school, however, district leadership will hold off building a second school in favor of constructing an additional wing.
“Obviously class sizes get bigger and bigger and because growth can come very quickly, sometimes we can’t get on top of the wave,” high school principal Dave Wilson said. “For example, if we get a lot of growth in July, we’re already too late. The wing will give us more room for collaboration with the kids and more space for educational purposes we couldn’t previously provide.”
The completion of the wing will nearly double the current maximum capacity, going from accommodating 900 students to 1500. This expansion will give the current building another seven to 10 years before another high school will need to be built.
“It’s a daunting task, trying to imagine what the growth is going to do and what the population explosion is going to look like here within the next five years,” Hemby said. “Everyone around here bleeds orange and white, so to retain our culture and who we are and that type of thing are very important values to the community and to the wants and needs of our school.”
One particular need the new wing will fill is the overcrowding of heavily populated classes such as dual credit. With the opportunity to fill a class with 60 students, the wing has been outfitted with foldable walls to expand and shrink classrooms. The wing will also feature two labs for culinary classes, but otherwise will resemble the older wings in look and structure. Class options are a reflection of surveys that students have taken over the past few years by the administration.
“Those surveys show us, okay, the kids are interested in this versus this,” Wilson said. “So we try to tailor our options based around that. But it can’t all be the school, you have to have a good partnership. When I meet with new parents I sit them down and I say, well, what are you bringing to the table to make your education successful?”
Another aspect the population growth will contribute to is the attraction of chain businesses, like fast food restaurants and department stores.
“What usually happens in a fast growing district is that the rooftops come before the businesses do,” Hemby said. “Economically in that way it can become very difficult for the school district. So one really helpful thing we’re all trying to be prepared for is the information highway, the gigabit city.”
A gigabit city is a dark optics infrastructure offering speeds of 1,000 megabits per second. This kind of connectivity could allow a household to download 200 movies at once without buffering, according to Hemby.
“It’s basically an internet network on steroids, is what it is,” Hemby said. “So that provides a person that say works out of their home can now do so efficiently. So those are just only a few things people will be able to look for and utilize.”
Already this opportunity has attracted the interest of hundreds of corporations, including Collin County Community College, which has plans to build a satellite campus in the town. This addition will create a hub for cybersecurity and other technological commodities.
“Those types of things are going to hold an attraction for Celina,” Hemby said. “The revenue from those particular types of businesses and corporations really increase your revenue, and really help give the space and capacity you need. Then who knows after that, you’d have to have a crystal ball because who knows what the economy’s going to do.”
Celina leadership has brought in companies such as Claycomb Associates and Templeton Demographics to help prepare for the expansion. Their primary goal is to aid in compensating for the projected 700 new houses expected to be built within the next five to 10 years. When dealing with numbers as substantial as these, Hemby believes friendly relations between the city and school district are “imperative.”
“Compromise is so important,” Hemby said. “We’ve been very blessed to have leadership that’s just as excited as us for the growth of this community, and we just want the overall understanding to be that it’s not ‘if’ anymore but ‘when.’”

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