JENNIFER FIERRO • STAFF WRITER
BURNET — Facility improvements across Burnet Consolidated Independent School District highlighted the past several months as administrators and staff members put the final touches in time for the opening of the 2016-17 school year.
Teachers at Burnet Elementary School have been moving their classrooms to Shady Grove Elementary, which reopens this year after district officials closed the campus three years ago because of a decline in attendance.
Construction included a new roof, heating and cooling system and other necessities. It added another 18 classrooms. The HVAC system includes a timer, just like the systems at the other campuses.
Superintendent Keith McBurnett said administrators have noticed a cost savings in electricity.
“Our utility bills are so much better because of these systems,” he said.
But the old Burnet Elementary campus isn’t being shut down. Instead, it’s the new home of Quest High School, the alternative campus for high school students.
“There’s lots of boxes and lots of moving,” McBurnett said with a smile.
R.J. Richey Elementary received roof and mechanical upgrades.
All of these projects were part of the $26.7 million bond package that voters approved in November 2014.
The school district also made improvements to its athletic facilities. At Bulldog Field, a grassy hill on the home side has been replaced with a wheelchair-accessible area that also allows fans to bring their lawn chairs to cheer on the Bulldogs.
“We’re really proud of that corner,” the superintendent said. “That area was a little bit of an eyesore. There was unused space that was difficult to maintain.”
He noted that when it rained, mud and water found its way to the track. But thanks to the concrete area, McBurnett hopes fans who find it difficult to climb stadium stairs or sit in the bleachers will use this area.
The tennis courts were resurfaced and painted, new wind covers and player benches were added, and spectators now have shaded bleachers to sit and watch the Bulldogs on the hard-court surfaces. The facility includes eight courts.
The superintendent said these athletic upgrades are in line with the new track and artificial turf at Bulldog Field and allow the school to showcase its student-athletes.
As for the old Quest building, McBurnett said some community groups have inquired about using it for a museum or a community center. Because it’s one of the oldest buildings in the city, people have expressed a desire to keep it in use, he said.