When Dr. Stephanie Howard accepted the Plains ISD superintendent position, she stepped onto a brand new campus.
The school is about three years old. Final touches to the new gymnasium wrapped up in January of this year.
In November of 2010, a $31 million bond passed for the construction of the new Pre-k through 12th grade campus. It is a 130,000 sq. foot building, so all 430 students and administration are under one roof, separated by wings.
Then, in 2013, a $17 million bond passed, allowing for the construction of a new competition gym as well as renovations to the existing gym and auditorium.
“It was something that immediately caught my eye when I first saw the building,” Dr. Howard said.
She said there is a lot of pride taken in the facilities.
“Everything is in perfect condition and taken care of on an ongoing basis,” she said. “The students, you can tell they appreciate the facilities. When we host events, comments are made about how nice the facilities are and the design of the building and how well it all flows together.”
Dr. Howard said she was incredibly impressed with the quality of work that was done.
“They didn’t spare expenses on things that will pay off in the long run. An example is the terrazzo flooring. Having been in this business about 20 years, I’ve been in buildings with terrazzo flooring and terrazzo is expensive up front, but terrazzo will last forever,” she said.
Kenneth Engle is the Plains ISD School Board President. He has served on the board for about three years, but has been involved in the schools district for three decades.
“It’s kind of like a pay back. Plains paid me well and I feel like I’m paying it back by serving on the board,” he said.
Engle said he taught social studies, physical education, coached and helped out wherever he could.
“Fond memories, fond memories. Always try to go to all of the class reunions and visit with my ex students.”
In fact, some of his former students are now employees for Plains ISD.
His wife spent the majority of her teaching career at the Plains Elementary School not far from Engle, who worked at the junior high.
“We would ride to school together, when I wasn’t coaching,” Engle said.
Engle said when plans were made to build a new campus, not everyone was excited.
“There were a lot of tears shed over the old building being destroyed, but now we have some memories in the new and we are moving forward,” he said.
One of the things Engle is proud of is the fact they were able to save the facade of the front of the old junior high school.
A lot of work went into moving it into the new cafeteria, where it ornaments the stage.
“It’s just perfect. The technicians said if it were built today, it would have crumbled,” Engle said. But because of the good quality of concrete used decades ago, the design made it in one piece.
But that is not the only piece of history they were able to save.
In the sixties, a graduating class purchased terrazzo flooring with a cowboy design, which found a home in the foyer of the gymnasium. Former students came together to raise the money to have the cowboy moved over to the new competition gym.
Aside from saving pieces of history, Engle said one of the things he loves most about the new campus is the upgraded security.
Students, faculty and staff all have key cards that can be programmed for certain hours and days. Dr. Howard said people cannot access the campus wings without a key card.
The campus is also outfitted with cameras and some of the newest technology for the classrooms.
Plains ISD also issues laptops to students beginning in fifth grade.
Dr. Howard said once the students reach the ninth grade, they are able to exchange their laptop for a newer one.
Engle said at the end of the day, it is all about the students and being able to provide a safe campus with a great learning environment is well worth the time and money.