A community forum was held Monday night at the SHAPE Community Center in which folks in attendance let Houston ISD, administrators and trustees have it regarding the HISD Bond. At least one of my sources called it a good exercise in community involvement, although that source didn’t get the vibe that there was anything organized against the HISD Bond.
On the other hand, the Pro-Bond folks held a press conference at Westbury High School featuring all the heads of Bond PAC. It was also announced who all is involved in the pro-bond group, with familiar names like Lupe Fraga and local pro-immigrant Republican Jacob Monty in the mix.
Although any talk against the bond has stressed a lack of community input, it seems at least Westbury has an advisory team that has come up with what improvements will be made.
The kickoff was held at Westbury High School, which will receive about $40 million under the proposal. This proposed expenditure would be for partial replacement of facilities to complement work already completed at Westbury and general renovations to accommodate 2,300 to 2,500 students. Westbury’s Project Advisory Team is made up of the campus principal, staff, parents and community members who will provide input on how their school is designed to meet their unique needs.
The majority of new facilities will be high schools to replace existing ones. At least one East End high school teacher has told me of the dire conditions of these facilities. In fact, the average age of a high school in Houston is 51 years–5 years above the national average. And the stories are plentiful.
Westbury Principal Andrew Wainwright can attest to problems when schools don’t keep up with growth. On his 2,200 student campus, Wainwright has 22 temporary buildings, which include most of the 9th grade campus. And some of those “temporary” buildings have been at Westbury for 15 years.
“We really believe our students deserve a top notch facility with great science labs and meeting halls,” said Wainwright. “We need better labs with better equipment. Right now, our students are seeing demonstrations rather than being able to do the lab work themselves.”
In a press release from the PAC, we find out exactly what the HISD Bond will get us.
Under the bond proposal, 20 high schools will receive new campuses:
Austin Bellaire Davis
DeBakey Eastwood Furr
HSPVA Jordan Lamar
Lee Madison Milby
North Early College Sam Houston Sharpstown
South Early College Sterling Washington
Four high schools will be partially replaced:
Young Men’s College Prep Academy Young Women’s Prep Academy
Four high schools will be renovated:
Jones Kashmere Scarborough Sharpstown Internationa
Five elementary schools will be converted to K-8 campuses:
Garden Oaks Montessori
Mandarin Chinese Language Immersion School at Gordon
Pilgrim Academy Wharton Dual Language School Wilson Montessori
Three new elementary campuses will be built:
Askew Parker Relief school on the west side
Two middle schools will replaced/completed:
In addition, all HISD students will benefit from:
- $100 million for district-wide technology improvements
- $35 million to renovate middle school restrooms
- $17.3 million for district-wide safety and security improvements
- $42.7 million to replace regional field houses and improve athletic facilities
So, the debates have begun. The Pro-Bond folks hope to raise and spend over $1 million to convince voters to support the bond.
I’ll be seeking out more opinion on the HISD Bond. If you have one, and you actually live in Houston ISD, send it in!