The new Gloria Marshall Elementary School, opening this fall to 730 pre-K5 students in the Spring (Texas) Independent School District, will sport an aquatic pond for students to study its ecosystem, a butterfly garden, an above-ground cistern to collect rainwater, and a wind turbine. Inside will be a computer in the school lobby allowing students to view the amount of energy the roof's solar panels are harnessing. It will be one of the greenest schools in Texas and the first in Houston to use geothermal heating and cooling.
The Gloria Marshall Elementary School, which cost $15.6 million, is the final project for the district covered by a $280 million voter-approved bond in May 2007. The new schools were needed to tend to the growing enrollment in the district, which currently has 36 schools with approximately 36,000 students.
"We wanted to find what was cost-effective and would provide a proper learning environment," says Christine Porter, associate superintendent for financial services.
The school was designed to engage students in project-based learning, a curriculum the district dubbed Discovery Approach Learning. "Students come with motivation, and we need to learn how to tap into that motivation," says Dalane Bouillion, associate superintendent of curriculum and instruction at Spring ISD. The district pulled its best science teachers to meet with the architects from SHW Group, explains Bouillion. The average monthly electrical consumption for an elementary school in spring ISD is 105,000 kilowatt hours. The district predicts that its moves toward energy efficiency will reduce energy consumption by 25 percent.