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Waco ISD approves contract for Tennyson Middle School construction project, parents upset over design

Parents said the design, which includes several glass walls, puts their kids at risk should there be an active shooter.

WACO, Texas — The Waco Independent School District Board voted to approve a bid from College Station contractor CORE Construction to redesign Tennyson Middle School Thursday night.

The proposal passed with a 4-3 vote. A second contractor, Mazanec Construction, based in Waco, also bid on the project.

CORE will also do the work on G.W. Carver, while Rogers O'Brien, which has offices in multiple Texas cities, will build the new Waco High School, according to Executive Director for Communications for Waco ISD, Alice Jauregui.

The design for Waco High was approved unanimously by the school board on January 27, 2022. The design for G.W. Carver was approved unanimously on February 24, 2022, according to Waco ISD Chief of Staff Elizabeth Cox.

The Tennyson design passed with a vote of 4-2 on July 21, Cox said. One of the dissenting votes was Trustee Jeremy Davis. Davis expressed concern over the use of glass in the classroom areas.

The issue of glass in the classrooms has also drawn criticism from Waco ISD parents. Some of those parents spoke at Thursday night's meeting, saying the glass put their kids at risk in an active shooter situation. 

"The frustrating part is that there hasn't been good reason for it," concerned parent Hope Balfa-Mustakim said. "So we understand that aesthetically, it can be pleasing. We understand that it tends to open up the space and make it brighter and more collaborative space, but I don't believe that we have to put our kids in danger just to make something aesthetically pleasing and just to have a collaborative learning environment."

Parents and teachers say they will not give up in their pursuit to have the board amend the glass wall design.

They say they want their kids to be safe, and this won't be the last time Waco ISD hears from them.

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