Facilities Services and Fleet Operations host annual recognition luncheon

The basketball court in the Field House at Barnett Motor Pool was transformed into a dining hall on Wednesday for Facilities Services and Fleet Operations’ annual employee recognition luncheon.

Facilities Services and Fleet Operations Officer Alisha Jolivette said the purpose of the luncheon was to thank employees for their hard work and to give them an opportunity to enjoy themselves.

The lunch was part of the department’s employee appreciation week, which also included several “Cookies and Conversation” events designed to engage employees and solicit their feedback and suggestions.

“We definitely appreciate you for all that you do,” Jolivette said to attendees. “A lot of times we don’t get the same recognition as some of the academic departments. Just know that we are deeply grateful for your efforts.”

At the appreciation lunch, musical entertainment was provided by a live jazz band, and employees were given a raffle ticket for a chance to win a gift. Jolivette also presented certificates of appreciation to retiring employees and gift bags to Chief Operating Officer Brian Busby and Deputy Chief Operating Officer Eugene Salazar.

“I’m kind of new to all this,” Transport Mechanic Team Lead Jorge Martinez said, noting that this was his first appreciation event at HISD. “I think everybody getting together and spending a bit of time away from the workplace really brings a positive vibe.”

Fleet Operations Manager Gary Daigle said he enjoyed seeing the fellowship among his employees.

“The importance that the district is placing on showing appreciation for their employees is something that I have not seen in the private industry,” Daigle said. “I think we all appreciate that openness and that sense of family.”

Leading Impact Program Kicks Off with Anti-Bias Workshop

Participants engaged in lively discussion during the inaugural session of Leading Impact, a new interactive management development program for Business Operations.

Fifty managers — selected from 140 applicants across Business Operations — have been tapped to participate in the seven-month program, which focuses on leadership, communication, decision making, team and talent management, and performance management.

The program, which was organized by Business Operations Support and kicked off in November, calls for participants to attend a full-day training session once a month.

“We are all in this room because we’re leaders,” Business Support Officer Mary Lehnartz said. “We need to be a voice, not just because it’s our job, but because it’s our communities. It’s our kids that are being impacted.”

Leading Impact is one of two programs designed to cultivate leadership skills across the division. In January, a cohort of senior managers will begin a three-month, six-session course Leadership Series provided in partnership with the University of Houston and focused on leadership empowerment, including development of self-awareness and effective leadership behaviors.

At the first Leading Impact session, attendees received a socio-economic history of public schools and an overview of HISD’s Government Relations Department and participated in a workshop about removing bias in the K-12 environment. During the workshop, the paired up and were told to make assumptions about their partner’s spoken languages, ethnicity, favorite foods, and other preferences.

“Judging someone without knowing them makes people uncomfortable — and it should,” Custodial Team Lead Octavio Lopez said, explaining that he though the activity was effective.

Anti-bias workshop Presenter Rhoda Linton stressed that prejudice can have a detrimental effect on productivity.

“When people are experiencing these microaggressions in their workplace, it impedes their performance,” Linton said. “They seem to be harmless, but over time they wear the culture of a company down.”

Maintenance Team Lead Ronald Richardson said he will use some of the program activities with his own team.

“I want to take this back and show those guys,” Richardson said. “Everybody needs this.”

In addition to the scheduled sessions, managers also are required to participate in “experience” activities — touring a 2012 Bond school, visiting the Customer Care Call Center, volunteering at a transportation hub or motor pool — that allow them to get a glimpse of the different departments under Business Operations and the breadth of work they do.

Board of Trustees hears update on positive developments in Achieve 180 program 

As the district prepares to wrap up the first half of the school year, Achieve 180 leadership had nothing but positive results to share on the program’s first semester to Board of Trustees on Monday.

Achieve 180 Area Superintendent Felicia Adams provided an update that focused on how the program’s pillars have yielded immediate outcomes within the first half of the school year.

The six guiding pillars within Achieve 180 program provide the strategic framework for the transformational work being done at campuses.

The pillars focus on leadership excellence, teaching excellence, school design, social and emotional learning support, and family and community empowerment.  Continue reading

Seniors invited to audition as emcee for Public Education Matters benefit dinner

One lucky HISD senior will have the chance to show off their emcee skills and win a college scholarship at the HISD Foundation’s 2019 Public Education Matters Benefit Dinner.

The winning student will host the event on Tuesday, March 5, and will earn a $2,500 college scholarship. This year’s master of ceremonies will host a crowd of over 1,500 at the Hilton Americas Hotel in Downtown Houston. Attendees will be a who’s who of the city, including elected officials, notable community members and business leaders.

We are excited to include one of the district’s own students in the evening’s events,” said HISD Chief Development Officer Ann Best Scott. “I can’t think of anyone better to serve as emcee than a student who directly benefits from public education.”  Continue reading

HISD canceling after-school activities due to inclement weather forecast 

Due to impending inclement weather and the potential for hazardous road conditions, the Houston Independent School District is canceling all after-school activities for Friday, Dec. 7.

Additionally, all varsity basketball games scheduled for tonight are being rescheduled for Saturday, December 8. The revised schedule for Saturday games, including times and locations, is:

Girls Wheatley HS Scarborough HS Barnett 10 a.m.
Girls Yates HS Furr HS Barnett 11:30 a.m.
Boys Yates HS Worthing HS Barnett 1 p.m.
Boys Wisdom HS Austin HS Butler 1 p.m.
Boys Milby HS Sterling HS Butler 2:30 p.m.
Boys Lamar HS Westside HS Butler 4 p.m.
Girls Lamar HS Westbury HS Delmar 1 p.m.
Girls Westside HS Bellaire HS Delmar 2:30 p.m.
Boys Waltrip HS Madison HS Delmar 4 p.m.
Girls Kashmere HS North Forest HS Wilkins Pavilion 1 p.m.
Boys Furr HS North Forest HS Wilkins Pavilion 2:30 p.m.
Boys Washington HS Wheatley HS Wilkins Pavilion 4 p.m.
Girls Waltrip HS Wisdom HS TJ Engram 1 p.m.
Boys Northside HS Sharpstown HS TJ Engram 2:30 p.m.
Boys Mickey Leland Westbury HS TJ Engram 4 p.m.

Games originally scheduled for Saturday will be played at their planned times and locations. Any school activities rescheduled for Saturday will not begin until after 9 a.m.

For additional updates, please visit www.houstonisd.org and follow district updates on Twitter and Facebook: twitter.com/houstonisd and facebook.com/houstonisd.

Transportation Services to review afternoon routes

Transportation Services is conducting a comprehensive review of all afternoon bus routes to ensure all stops are scheduled appropriately and all routes can be completed safely in the time allotted.

This analysis comes on the heels of a similar review of all morning bus routes, which is wrapping up. Department staff are expected to complete the review and make any necessary route changes by February 2019.

“I want parents to know we hear them,” Interim General Manager John Wilcots IV said, noting that they focused first on morning routes to ensure students were getting to school on time. “They want us to get these afternoon routes reviewed and updated, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

As part of the review, stop times will be updated to accurately reflect the time needed to execute each route. This will help the department provide parents with accurate pick-up and drop-off times. Continue reading

Austin HS celebrates groundbreaking ceremony for new campus

Austin High School students, staff, alumni, and community members gathered Tuesday to show their appreciation for the 81-year-old campus and celebrate the start of construction on their new school.

The groundbreaking ceremony was held just beyond the site where the current school is undergoing demolition and adjacent to where construction crews have started work on the foundation for the new school.
Continue reading

Kinder HSPVA students get first look at new campus

Excitement filled the air Wednesday at the new Kinder HSPVA as students toured the facility for the first time in advance of the school’s official opening day on Jan. 7.

Over winter break, the school will move out of its current campus in Montrose and into a new five-story building located at 790 Austin St. in downtown Houston near the city’s renowned arts and theater district.

“I think their mouths will be wide open,” HSPVA Principal Scott Allen predicted as he waited for the students to arrive. “They’ve seen photos, but that doesn’t do this building justice. They will feel so special that this state-of-the-art, one-of-a-kind facility was built just for them.” Continue reading

Students discover the sky’s the limit on DiscoverU field trip

High school students from across HISD attended a day-long field trip to Space Center Houston recently.

The trip, sponsored by Houston-based nonprofit organization DiscoverU, was the culmination of an outreach effort led by HISD’s College and Career Readiness Department that resulted in 57 eleventh-graders being admitted into NASA’s High School Aerospace Scholars (HAS) program. All students who were accepted were invited to register for the free field trip, and 51 attended.

Activities included a tour of Building 9 and Rocket Park, an astronaut talk in Space Center Theater, and a chance to explore Space Center Houston.

“Being able to a meet an astronaut was inspiring,” said Energy junior Cynthia Gomez. “They set a high goal and accomplished it.”

Students from the following high schools went on the trip: Bellaire, Carnegie, Eastwood Academy, Energy Institute, Heights, HSPVA, Madison, Mickey Leland College Prep, North Houston Early College, Northside, Sharpstown, Texas Connections Academy, Washington, and Westside. A few tenth-graders from Madison and Washington also attended.

DiscoverU’s aim was to expose students to Space Center Houston and provide an in-person introduction to the program, with the goal of encouraging and empowering HISD students to complete the five-month online course and get a chance to spend a week at Johnson Space Center next summer.

It was also an opportunity for students to meet others in the program who share their interest in aerospace engineering.

“The trip was amazing,” said Washington sophomore Jesus Reynaga. “It really gave me insight into what I want to do when I grow up.”

HISD administrators begin 2019-2020 budget discussions  

The HISD Board of Trustees met Monday to hear the first report from district administrators on expectations for the 2019-2020 fiscal year budget.

District officials are projecting an initial $76 million deficit, due in large part to expected declining enrollment and a modest increase in property values – both of which cause the district’s recapture payment to increase.

According to Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan, any cuts to the budget to address the deficit will be done in a way that tries to minimize impact to instruction. That task is made harder given the cuts made to operational areas last year.   Continue reading