KATY (Covering Katy News) - The Katy ISD Welch Outdoor Learning Center is in for a big renovation. The 34-acre site has enriched student's academic and physical education curriculums in a unique open-air environment for 40 years and district leaders say it's time for improvements.

The Welch Outdoor Learning Center includes science and history classrooms and museums, a large barn and barnyard, and a large pond for the study of fresh water habitats.

During their October 28 board meeting the Katy ISD Board of Trustees approved the renovation design for the outdoor learning center.

"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.

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 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 6 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.

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