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RICHARDSON -- Richardson ISD students may be having a great summer off, but at many RISD campuses, summer has been anything but a vacation.

'It's been a very, very busy summer,' said district spokesman Tim Clark. He said workers have been 'putting in very long hours, working weekends, working overtime.'

The district says this is its busiest summer construction frenzy in decades, with upgrades to two-thirds of its 55 campuses. Seven of the schools are getting $30 million worth of capacity expansion to keep up with growing attendance rolls.

'It's a good problem to have, but we reached a point where we just didn't have enough space for all of the students who were enrolling,' Clark said.

The ambitious additions include 25 percent more classrooms at Merriman Park Elementary. Principal Katie Kirkpatrick hopes that will provide enough new space to accommodate kids who live nearby, but had to be bused elsewhere last year because of overcrowding.

'It's going to allow us to welcome back close to 100 students who are in our attendance zone and belong here,' she said.

But pressure is building to get it all done in time.

Larger projects, like new gymnasiums at Wallace and White Rock elementaries, won't be done until sometime in September. But with all the urgency of getting ready for finals, workers are doubling down to finish new classrooms and meeting spaces by the time the first bell rings in two weeks.

E-mail jwheeler@wfaa.com

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