During their board meeting Monday, Oct. 28, Katy ISD’s trustees approved the renovation design for the district’s nearly 40-year-old Outdoor Learning Center.

Since 1981, the Katy ISD Welch Outdoor Learning Center (OLC) has enriched student’s academic and physical education curriculums in a unique open-air environment. The site of 34.5 acres includes science and history classrooms and museums, a large barn and barnyard and a large pond for the study of freshwater habitats.

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

A more sophisticated fire alarm system, an emergency generator, a public address system and further modifications that comply with the ADA are some of the updates that will be made at the site. The electrical service is district owned and requires replacement of the poles.

Also, the electrical route will be altered to allow a fire lane into the facility to be built. The fire lane will permit 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.

Due to the spring renovations, the annual Folk Life Festival will be postponed for the 2019-20 school year and will launch again in spring of 2021. In lieu of the annual OLC Summer Camp, the district is exploring options to provide some type of outdoor learning activity at another location this summer.

The OLC renovations are a part of the November 2017 bond program. The community approved bond consisted of six new campuses, a comprehensive renovation of Fielder Elementary, renovations to 61 campuses and facilities, upgrades to safety and security systems at 40 campuses, technology network upgrades across the district, and included funds for new buses, portables, and fuel tanks.