TEMPLE, Texas – Meridith Dunbar Early Childhood Academy has stood in East Temple since 1911 and has undergone several different names. Now it will have a different look.
Temple’s lone all-black high school is now a Pre-K for the town and will be gutted and re-worked over a 12-month period to the tune of an entirely new interior. It was the building’s history that kept the district from tearing it down and starting from scratch.
“This is one of our oldest buildings in the school district, but it’s historic,” says Temple ISD Superintendent Dr. Bobby Ott. “It’s not a building that you would take down and rebuild. It’s a building that you would renovate and make relevant and make current.”
The school was last renovated in 1955 while it was still a high school. Twelve years later, the school added “Meridith” to its name to memorialize its principal, who died in a train-auto accident.
The school’s most famous alum is undoubtedly Pro Football Hall of Famer and four-time Super Bowl Champion “Mean” Joe Greene.
“It’s important to us as a school district and as a community to honor that history, to improve upon a facility that has stood the test of time and that means so much to our community,” says Assistant Superintendent Kent Boyd. “These are improvements that we need to make to bring it up to current standards.”
The renovation is the last act of a bond passed in 2015. The schools ceilings and door frames will be adjusted for smaller children and safety vestibules will be added to the campus.
With Temple’s population growing, they will be in need of another bond within the next few years.
“We will be in need of another elementary campus and perhaps a middle school campus in the future as well,” says Ott. “Our school board actually purchased the land last year for that.”
School district bonds have been utilized at Killeen and Midway ISD’s recently, as well. Ott doesn’t think that will shy voters away from a bond in Temple.
“If it’s on time, if it’s done right, and if it’s on budget or under budget, then we’ve delivered our promise back to the community and the stakeholders and taxpayers,” says Ott. “I think that’s always good momentum for them to continue to support us in our long range facilities plan.”
Temple ISD expects the renovations to take a year to complete, during which time classes will be held in portable classrooms.