Courtesy Town of Westlake
Westlake Academy, which started nine years ago with about 195 students, would expand to accommodate 1,300 over the next 20 years under a master plan adopted by the Town Council.
The academy already is bursting at the seams as more people move to Westlake and still more from outside the town boundary join a waiting list.
This fall, 650 students were enrolled, 204 of them Westlake residents. A total of 2,079 are on the waiting list for the only municipally operated charter school in Texas.
“There is a critical need right now for additional dining facilities and additional multipurpose facilities,” Mayor Laura Wheat said.
Funding has not yet been discussed, but she said a bond issue will be considered for the $8.3 million first phase.
“We don’t have that much money in the coffers,” Wheat said.
Westlake residents are automatically admitted to the academy. Any remaining spaces are filled by a public lottery each February.
Real estate agents have said the school, which uses a holistic learning approach called International Baccalaureate, has helped draw more residents to Westlake.
The average household size in Westlake rose from 2.46 in 2000 to 3.28 in 2010, according to the U.S. Census, reflecting a shift to more families.
Lowered housing prices in the town as a result of the recession — the average from January to October was $1.7 million — also have played a part.
The influx of students has meant the current dining room is overflowing into an art/science room and space designed as storage for the art/science classroom is being used as an office for the P.E. Department, among other issues.
Phase one of the master plan drawn up by Bennett Benner Pettit, a Fort Worth architecture and planning firm, calls for adding a cafetorium, field house, kindergarten pod, auditorium and secondary school building.
The plan’s construction schedule calls for phase one in 2013, with more construction in 2019 and 2025.
The council likely will look at funding possibilities in December or January, Wheat said.
The academy gets most of its $5.8 million operating budget from state funding, but the state has cut its budget in the past few years.
Funding also comes from the Town of Westlake, which owns the building, and the nonprofit Westlake Academy Foundation.
Private donations from parents also play a part.
Master plan highlights
Key parts of phase one of the expansion being considered at Westlake Academy:
- A new, 9,600-square-foot cafetorium would include a stage and storage in addition to a kitchen and dining area, at an estimated cost of $1.4 million.
- A new secondary school building would include 15 classrooms, additional office space and three rooms with flex space at an estimated cost of $3.25 million.
- A field house would include boys and girls visiting team locker rooms, weight room, outdoor concession and other spaces at an estimated cost of $1.2 million.
- Portable classrooms would remain in place for art and science.
- Design, engineering and other costs would bring the total to about $8.4 million.