CEDAR PARK, Texas -- It's been an ongoing controversy for the Leander Independent School District -- a new school that never opened its doors. The district blames the move on the recession, which meant fewer students and millions of dollars in budget cuts, but now things have changed, and Reed Elementary will welcome students next year.
Inside Reed Elementary Superintendent Bret Champion spoke to members of Leander ISD's leadership while empty shelves wait to be filled, and bare walls stand ready to serve as a canvas for student artwork.
Three years after it was built, Reed will finally have children on campus.
"It's a growing, fast-developing area," said Superintendent Champion. "We're still growing 1,000 kids a year. Our capacities at our elementaries have been exceeded, particularly in this area, so we're opening the school."
On a tour of the facility, officials saw district workers assembling furniture and getting it in the classrooms.
"There are library books to be bought. There are ovens and there are sinks, there are, you name it,” Champion said. “Everything you do to build a house is multiplied because it's like you have a family of 800 folks who are moving in."
The hallways are more curved than straight. Classrooms for each grade share a common area so the kids can interact.
Lisa Gibbs is Reed's new principal. "Three years worth of anticipation really builds a lot of excitement," she said.
Gibbs is spending the next couple of months hiring dozens of teachers and shaping Reed's future.
"Working with the community to find out what they envision for the school, working with kids to find out what they want the school to be like," she said.
Gibbs says setting up safety procedures is also a priority. The campus has safe rooms in case of an emergency with reinforced walls and ceilings, along with wind-resistant windows. Some doors lock automatically. Only staff key cards can open them.
"Anybody who comes in the front door has to go through the office,” Gibbs said. “They can't get into the building any other way."
Students from Naumann, Cox and Rutledge elementary schools will be assigned to the school next year.
The new school is named after fallen Cedar Park Police Officer Leonard Reed, who died in a motorcycle accident in August 2010.