Christine Lee, NBC 5 Irving Reporter
Irving's superintendent spent the first day of school checking in on some of the district's schools that were given major face lifts over the summer.
Some Irving students went back to school at renovated facilities.
Major renovations transformed Crockett and Sam Houston middle schools, and a $500,000 grant transformed classrooms at the Barbara Cardwell Career Preparatory Center.
Crockett Middle School was transformed with $6 million.
"Our students -- a couple of them -- explained to me it was like having Christmas in August," Principal Raymond Edwards said
Irving Independent School District Superintendent Dana Bedden inspected the changes made inside the school's new gym. Fresh paint on the wall was still drying, and the new basketball nets were still wrapped up.
"The whole climate this year is different because we were able to give our employees raises," he said. "We are adding back a number of things they lost to support teaching and learning."
At Sam Houston Middle School, which also changed beyond recognition, boxes were stacked high inside the renovated library.
"It's beautiful -- transformed," Principal Dionn Dahl said. "When teachers came in Friday morning, many of them cried."
At the Barbara Cardwell Career Preparatory Center, students were in for a surprise. The school became home of the new Star Academy Program, receiving $500,000 in grant money to transform a traditional classroom into a virtual interactive learning center.
"It's different because we can all learn from each other instead of just one person," freshman Courtney Blacknoll said. "Like, if we need help, we can just ask our partner."
Cardwell Prep was one of only two schools in the state to receive the grant.
While students adjusted to their new surroundings, Mark Ciesla, who transferred from a school district in Houston, said he was excited for a fresh start.
"We have more resources than we can ever use or need and everything for a whole range of different kinds of students and backgrounds," he said.
Bedden said 200 of this year's new 345 teachers were transferring from another department. He said only about 100 to 150 were beginning teachers starting out in their career.
More than 35,000 students are expected to go to school in the Irving ISD this year. The district's enrollment has been growing by about 200 to 300 students during the past five years.