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Parents, Community, Staff Weigh in on Rebuild of DISD Schools Damaged in Tornado

Walnut Hill Elementary and Cary Middle School were among those damaged in the October 20 tornado that hit Dallas

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In a conference room at Dallas Independent School District headquarters, parents, community leaders, and school staff from Walnut Hill Elementary started to envision the future... post-tornado.

"They deserve a new classroom, a new school, considering the disaster with the tornado," parent Deanne Key said.

Walnut Hill Elementary and Cary Middle School were both damaged in the October 20 tornado. Students from those schools have been attending classes at other campuses. In the future, DISD plans to combine Walnut Hill and Cary onto one campus.

The process started with a community meeting last month to talk about design ideas. Now, that has been pared down to a 'design charrette', a select group of people representing different groups of stakeholders.

The group spent the day brainstorming ideas and voting on design images using sticky dots to indicate preferences.

"This is nice," said Key looking at designs taped to the wall like a Pinterest board. "The openness of it."

"They might just look like Pinterest images, but there is a rhyme and reason for every image," architect Sangeetha Karthik said. "We want to understand why somebody likes it. We know that a picture is worth a thousand words, and what you describe as 'open' or 'modern' may be completely different from our interpretation."

A design charette was also used to rebuild South Oak Cliff High School. The goal is to use input in the final design of the new combined K-8 school, which hasn't been named yet.

"So it's a really incredible opportunity to say what's really unique about our programming and our learning," Walnut Hill Elementary Principal Phillip Potter said. "How are we going to design a structure around that?"

DISD would use funds from tornado relief, donations, and insurance to pay for the new school. The goal is to open by August 2022.

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