Pope Elementary a First for Bridgeland and Cy-Fair ISD

Cy-Fair Independent School District’s newest school, Pope Elementary, is set to open for the 2013-2014 school year and will not only serve as the founding school for Bridgeland, but also a first for the district, as the $14.6 million school offers an array of unique features.

The school’s design is a departure from recently-built elementaries, with a two-story component offering more learning space.

“There are five elementaries in the district that feature a second story, but those were built in the 1970s,” said Roy Sprague, assistant superintendent for facilities and construction for the Cy-Fair district. “This is the first two-story design we’ve built in a long time.”

Sprague said the design maintains desired classroom space, but also offers greater accessibility for pedestrian and vehicular traffic. Sprague also said the school was designed for energy efficiency and meets requirements outlined in the Texas Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) program, a national movement to build sustainable, efficient and environmentally sensitive schools that will enhance student performance through program criteria like including natural day lighting, comfortable and quiet environments to lessen student distractions, water conservation measures and use of recycled materials in construction.

“We are building a high-quality school with lower long-term maintenance and operational costs,” he said. “A high-performance school such as this one will impact education and the environment in a very positive way.”

Last spring, Bridgeland donated a 1.5-acre parcel to the district, increasing the original 14.8-acre tract to its current size of 16.3 acres. With an estimated market value of approximately $400,000, the donation better accommodates the school’s two-story design, said Peter Houghton, Bridgeland’s vice president of master planned communities.

“The design will allow students to observe the birds and wildlife that populate the area from a second-floor outdoor learning area that overlooks Cypress Lake,” Houghton said.

The school also will be near the Cypress Creek Nature Trail, a forested pathway that will give students a chance to participate in nature studies and track the more than 140 species of birds identified in the area. Two miles of the planned six-mile trail are now open, with the next phase in the planning stages.

“This property was specifically planned for a school. The nearby landscape offers educational opportunities and the design of roadways, sidewalks and bridges over lakes facilitates vehicle and pedestrian traffic,” Houghton said.

Becky Koop, who has 18 years of experience in education, will serve as the first principal for the elementary school.

“It’s an incredible opportunity to be named the principal of Pope Elementary,” Koop said. “I look forward to building a partnership between the campus and community to create a school where students can flourish.”

Pope’s mascot will be a panther and the school’s colors are silver, blue and black.

The new elementary is the first installment of Bridgeland’s “cradle-to-career and beyond” education plan, which comprises day cares, private facilities, public schools and opportunities for higher education. Currently, sites for nine public schools are included in the Bridgeland master plan. Bridgeland’s 11,400 acres fall within three school districts: Cypress-Fairbanks, Waller and Katy.