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Celebrating 40 Years in Frisco ISD

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Frisco, Texas: A fast growing city

From a quaint farming community on the Shawnee Trail to a thriving city with more than a quarter million citizens, Frisco has repeatedly been named one of the fastest-growing cities in the US. Attracting an influx of families seeking a desirable lifestyle and plentiful job opportunities near Dallas, the suburb’s unbridled growth put Frisco on the map as one of the top places to live in Texas.

A pivotal attraction is Frisco ISD’s commitment to providing an exemplary school system and quality education to its PreK to 12th-grade teachers and students. Dating back to the 1980s, Corgan partnered with Frisco ISD to provide architectural and design services for more than 70 elementary, middle schools, and high schools. Read on to find out some of the lessons learned from our long and prodigious relationship.

Meeting the demands for quality education

Keeping pace with rapid growth means managing resources, time, and funding to build schools in record time while preserving the quality of education and meeting the needs and demands of the community. Like other fast-growing districts, Frisco faced three key challenges:

  1. Putting key players in place to simultaneously build multiple campuses
  2. Meeting tight timelines for new builds and additions to keep up with district growth
  3. Maintaining aging facilities while at the same time building new ones

While Frisco and many rural and suburban districts across the nation faced explosive enrollment projections and fast growth, Frisco ISD quickly responded by putting the necessary leadership in place and working closely with Corgan to create innovative solutions to meet the demands for fast turn-around times in facilities design and execution.

Frisco ISD and Corgan: A relationship built on trust

Frisco ISD’s partnership with Corgan beginning in 1982 made possible the design and construction of more than 70 elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools over a 40-year period. The trust and dedication between city officials, FISD leaders, and the Corgan team solidified the district’s reputation and economic growth, bringing in citizens that approved seven bond elections for over $3 billion in funding for PreK-12 grade education.

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Armentha Norris Elementary School

Lessons learned: Keys to success

District leaders stayed true to their vision throughout the process, making for a successful and collaborative long-term relationship. Fortunately, several key factors were on their side, enabling project teams and architects to collaborate effectively, and enabling decisions and problems to be rectified more quickly when challenges arose. In addition, an unwavering vision, design innovations, research, and planning helped ease tensions and create lasting partnerships. Many factors led to a strong foundation and contributed to the district’s success including:  

  • The vision and ideals between City officials and district leaders were closely aligned, easing processes and limiting bureaucracy.
  • The evolution of the curriculum reinforced superior educational standards.
  • Corgan’s agility and dedicated resources over an extended period of time helped facilitate speed and collaboration between everyone involved.
  • Prototyping and efficiencies in resources and materials reduced costs and turnaround times.
  • The combined leadership of the city, the district, and Corgan made possible continued growth while maintaining continuity and small school environments across the district.
  • The initiatives received overwhelming support from the community and passage of bond elections.
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Rogers Elementary School

Frisco ISD championed smaller classrooms limited to 25 students or less per teacher, making Frisco ahead of its time.

Decades-long growth

In 1993, Corgan built Curtsinger Elementary School, the district’s first school implementing the small school model. Thirty years later, they debuted Panther Creek High School -- a modern three-story facility on a huge campus with adaptive use and flexible spaces, athletic facilities, a state-of-the-art auditorium, and classrooms and shared common spaces that provide an increased emphasis on the student and teacher experience.

Throughout several decades, the relationship has endured, and Frisco’s education system has continued to thrive and keep up with explosive population growth along with garnering continued community support and involvement, serving as a model case study for other districts to follow:

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Curtsinger Elementary School
Case Study

A small schools model

While the neighboring suburbs of Plano and Allen were building mega high schools with enrollments of 3,000 or more on their 11-12 and 10-12 campuses to develop academic programs as well as sports to catapult them to 4A status, Frisco championed smaller classrooms limited to 25 students or less per teacher with 11-12 high school enrollments of 1,800 – 2,100 students.

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Panther Creek High School

A blueprint for success

Frisco ISD’s unprecedented growth required a blueprint all its own, involving both short and long-term planning and asset management. Corgan’s expertise in documentation as well as its background in designing quality education facilities made the agile firm an ideal partner, with the ability to dedicate full-time resources to meet regularly with all levels of leadership and collaborate with vendors and construction entities over the 40 years.

Listening to the district’s needs and desires and embracing its culture and philosophy developed a team with a deep understanding and shared purpose, empowering key players to manage change under tight timelines to accelerate site adaption and project completion while continually adding new programs to the curriculum.

The architects and project managers aided the district in anticipating future enrollment, analyzing demographics, and planning projections for future expansion. Additionally, familiarity with the history of the district and the area helped project managers navigate site selection while considering issues like master planning involving surrounding areas, road expansions, power lines, neighboring landowners, and fire and code enforcement.

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Panther Creek High School

 

Setting the stage for future growth

The benefits of partnering with the same architect with tenure in administration helped to maximize resources by supporting Frisco ISD leaders to prepare for bond programs by drafting layouts of each project and estimating construction costs, and then presenting information to stakeholders. The collaborative effort provided research and insights into demographic projections, potential programs to meet student needs, and project considerations, fostering an alliance that provided accurate and transparent information for the preparation and delivery of bond programs and voter outcomes.

Excellence in education

Strong community support for public education along with visionary leadership supported by an architect firm willing to go the extra mile provided a transformative educational experience to every student, making Frisco ISD an exemplary case study in the annals of education. The speed and efficiency of building out the district while garnering high marks in state testing and graduation rates are among the measurements that demonstrate Frisco’s success.

The community’s rapid growth spurred the need for expanded capacity due to continually providing quality spaces for education, thereby enriching the lives of students and teachers, and changing the academic landscape for decades, empowering the success and achievement of families, students, and teachers, and changing the community for generations to come, providing a better future for all.  

Frisco ISD has been proud to partner with Corgan for one main reason, their commitment to service and building relationships. The personal attention provided by their entire staff, from Principal-in-Charge to the student intern is always professional, prompt, and team-centered. Our district relied on Corgan to serve us with consistent performance and attention to detail, and they did just that.

Richard Wilkinson, Former Deputy Superintendent of Business Services with Frisco ISD for over 25 years, currently Director of Business Development for Corgan's education studio
TheSquare Ep #60

Frisco and Scaling for Fast Growth

Learn more about Corgan's partnership with Frisco ISD in this episode of TheSquare, as we’ll explore the challenges and opportunities of a quickly growing district and how a student-centric approach inspired the enduring success of the district.

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