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Renovations Planned for Katy ISD's Outdoor Learning Center


November 1, 2019

By Jennifer Miko

The Katy ISD Board of Trustees approved the renovation design for the District’s Outdoor Learning Center during their October 28 Regular Board Meeting.

For nearly 40 years, the Katy ISD Welch Outdoor Learning Center (OLC) has

enriched students’ academic and physical education curriculums in a unique open-air environment. Earlier this week, the Katy ISD Board of Trustees approved plans to renovate areas of the facility.

Planned Improvements

Some of the updates slated for the site include:

  • More sophisticated fire alarm system

  • Emergency generator

  • Public address system

  • Further modifications that comply with the ADA

  • Replacement of the electrical poles (the electrical service is District-owned)

Building a fire lane into the facility is also planned, and requires the electrical route to be altered. The new lane will allow emergency service vehicles access to the buildings and teaching areas.

With the addition of roads, sidewalks and parking, the site will be in compliance with county flood control requirements.

Events Postponed or Relocated

Due to the spring renovations, the Annual Folk Life Festival will be postponed for the 2019-20 school year but will return in Spring 2021. The District is also considering options for alternate locations for the annual OLC Summer Camp.

The OLC consists of 34.5 acres of land, much of which is wooded. Visitors can explore the nature trails and the science classroom/museum and a history classroom/museum. There is also a large barn on the property, with a windmill and a variety of farm animals. The center also maintains a 1.3-acre pond for the study of fresh-water habitats.

'Outdoor Science Lab'

Fourth-grade students from the district enjoy field trips to the OLC interactive classrooms to reinforce their lessons. The OLC also provides first-grade classes incubators to hatch chicks at their home campus.

“At the Center students are able to study the science of dynamic ecosystems that thrive on land and in water,” said Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Christine Caskey. “It’s essentially an outdoor science lab for our students across the District,” she added.

The OLC, established in 1981, is named after Kenneth Welch who played a key role in the planning stages of the center and making the outdoor learning center idea a reality. The OLC is located about 1/4 mile west of the Katy ISD Administration building at 6301 South Stadium Lane in Katy.

The OLC renovations are a part of the November 2017 Bond program.

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