The existing school was build in the 1950's and was the original stand-alone elementary school for mesquite ISD. Its design was based on the "California" plan, utilizing single laded wing plan connected by open canopies and operable windows providing natural ventilation to every classroom.
Security issues had become paramount since the classrooms opened directly to the outside and required students to travel outdoors to the restrooms, cafeteria, gym, library, art, music and the office. The low slung woof frame structure added another level of complexity in providing air conditioning and utilities to the classroom every time systems were upgraded. A full replacement was the best solution.
Multiple design options were considered utilizing multiple additions in phases to replace the school. The spread out site configuration along with sharing the site with a middle school created obstacles that could not be overcome. It became very apparent to the school district the best option was to replace the entire school with a new school facility all at once in order to shorten the construction period and minimize the impact upon the students and teachers.
The site was so limited that the first phase of the construction was to demolish two classrooms wings just to allow space for the new building. The next big challenge wss to provide enough area for the geothermal well field early in the construction while still providing a safe distance separation from the existing facility for the safety of the students during the construction period. The district desired to keep the traditional "red brick school house" motif since the school was replacing the original elementary school is the district.
Finally, the demolition of the old school and the saving of the existing large trees created a "park like" approach to the new school entrance.
CASTTLEBERRY ISD - A.V. Cato Elementary School
Castleberry ISD had not built a new elementary school since 1950s. The District's original school campus served about 1,500 K-5 students in an assembly of over a dozen structures built over a 50 year span. The campus was identified as two separate schools, Castleberry Elementary being the primary school and A.V. Cato being the intermediate school. They each occupied separate buildings, sharing a single large cafeteria and gymnasium building, the newest structure on the campus.
With little off-street parking and vehicular circulation, student drop-off/pick-up periods had become traffic nightmares and challenges to safety. A plan was developed to construct two new elementary school on separate sites to replace thing single, large campus. This way the first of the two schools to be constructed, and was located on a newly acquired site in a nearby neighborhood. A.V. Cato opened in the fall of 2012 as a full Pre-K-5 school, reducing the student population of the original campus by 50%. The District took advantage of competitive construction costs by including 8 unfinished classrooms within the building to accommodate future growth.
CASTTLEBERRY ISD - Castleberry Elementary School
The opening of A.C. Cato reduced the District's original elementary school student population by 50%. Therefore, CISD was able to demolish enough of the now vacated buildings to begin construction of the new, replacement Castleberry Elementary School. This school will operate as pre-K through 5th grade school like the new A.V. Cato, rather than as a primary school as it had been. The existing cafeteria/gymnasium building, that served both schools, was preserved and renovated and connected to the new elementary school. The interior renovation of the school occurred in the summer of 2012 allowing it to continue in operation for the remaining students while construction of their new school continues.