HISD surveys students and parents on magnet programs

HISD is seeking parent and student input on the district’s magnet programs in an effort to better understand our families’ needs. The survey is open to students or parents of students who:

  • Attend a magnet program
  • Do not attend a magnet program
  • Live within HISD but do not currently attend an HISD school

The survey can be found at HoustonISD.org/MagnetSurvey. It will be open until March 30.

HISD pioneered the development of magnet programs in the 1970s and is known nationally for its innovative offerings at more than 100 schools.

“We remain committed to magnet programs and school choice,” said HISD Superintendent Richard Carranza. “We want to be sure that our programs are in line with the district’s vision that every child, no matter where they live, has equitable opportunities and access to an effective, personalized education.”

The community will have opportunities to comment on the magnet program in public meetings that will be scheduled for the coming weeks.

3 HISD teachers, 1 principal named finalists for 2018 HEB Excellence in Education Awards 

Three HISD teachers and one principal have been recognized as finalists for the 2018 HEB Excellence in Education Awards, one of the largest monetary programs for educators in Texas and the nation.

Kellie Karavias of Gregory-Lincoln, Amber Neal of Almeda Elementary School, Jennifer Chase of the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, and Principal Diego Calderon of Burbank Elementary School, are among eight educators from across Houston who were surprised in their classrooms and presented the awards.

Each teacher finalist received a $1,000 check for themselves and a $1,000 check for their schools. The principal was presented a $1,000 personal prize and a $2,500 prize for the school at a surprise pep-rally-style student assembly.

HEB will be surprising 40 finalists over the next two months. Finalists across the state will be invited to Houston on May 5-6 to compete for the chance to win additional cash prizes totaling $430,000.

Gregory-Lincoln celebrates Black History Month with tour, performances

In honor of Black History Month, Gregory-Lincoln Education Center has organized a program that includes a tour of Freedmen’s Town and performances by students. The celebration begins with a walking tour to celebrate their very own Freedmen’s Town. The tour begins at 4:45 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 28, with the viewing of an art exhibit at the school. After that, everyone will proceed to the red bricks of Freemen Town located on the school campus, where the band will perform.

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Community meetings scheduled on budget deficit

HISD Board of Education Trustees are scheduling meetings in their respective districts to discuss the district’s 2018-2019 budget deficit.

Meetings may also address the difficult choices the district faces regarding improvement required campuses, HB 1842, and SB 1882. Questions from the audience are welcome.

The following meetings have been scheduled. Each meeting will begin at 6 p.m.: Continue reading

HISD budget deficit projection reduced to $115 million

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As HISD continues to prepare a budget for the 2018-19 school year, the district anticipates a projected deficit reduction from $208 million to $115 million. This revised deficit includes several budget assumptions related to Hurricane Harvey relief and pending litigation.

When HISD first began budgeting for the 2018-2019 school year, it was in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Using a worst-case scenario, the district’s financial team projected a $208 million deficit based on four dynamic factors: the Local Optional Homestead Exemption (LOHE) lawsuit, a recapture payment to the state, a potential property tax value decreaseand an anticipated student enrollment decline. District administrators crafted a revised budget outlook for the 2018-19 school year.

Community meetings scheduled on budget deficit

The district’s legal team feels confident that the state will prevail in the LOHE lawsuit. For HISD, this means a reduction in its recapture payment because the TEA will recognize half of the 20 percent local homestead exemption given to homeowners. A decision in the lawsuit could come after a hearing this spring. A win would reduce HISD’s recapture payment by $51 million.

Under the Texas Education Code, TEA Commissioner Mike Morath has the authority to adjust property values. Based on the damage sustained from Hurricane Harvey and the lasting impact of the storm on our students and staff, we anticipate the commissioner will adjust property values, which in turn, would reduce our recapture payment. Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, and other state leaders have publicly stated their support for this action. Click here to review a September 2017 press release from Lt. Governor Dan Patrick that confirms his support for schools districts in Region IV impacted by Hurricane Harvey, which includes HISD. In addition, Commissioner Morath surveyed school districts after the hurricane to gather projections on their property tax collections post-Harvey. HISD estimates a $42 million adjustment for property value loss associated with Hurricane Harvey.

In addition, the HISD Board of Education favors a district budget performance review to be conducted by a firm that has previously worked with large school district budgets. An agenda item is anticipated for the April 2018 board meeting. If approved, an immediate audit would begin with a completion date set for the end of the year.

Jordan HS construction nearly one-third complete

The new Barbara Jordan High School for Careers is beginning to take shape with the building’s footprint almost finished and exterior and interior wall framing underway.

Roof installation — a major project milestone — is nearly complete, and installation of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems is underway. In addition, the building will be fully enclosed by the end of May.

Jordan’s $42.4 million construction project is a part of HISD’s voter-approved 2012 Bond Program, which calls for the renovation or rebuilding of 40 schools, including 29 high schools. The 120,000-square-foot career center will accommodate 600 to 800 students who will spend part of the day at their home school and part of the day at Jordan participating in specialized, hands-on career training.

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Parents can sign up to participate in Special Education focus group meetings

The Texas Education Agency will be conducting focus group meetings on Monday, Feb. 26 for parents of students with disabilities across age and grade levels receiving special education services.

During the 2016-2017 school year, the United States Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, performed a series of onsite monitoring visits to review Texas’ compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The final report was provided to TEA on Jan. 10, 2018.

The findings from that report require TEA to develop a plan to address four corrective actions. An integral part of the plan development process will be the gathering of input from stakeholders and other interested Texans. Continue reading

HISD District III Honor Choir to perform inaugural concert

It promises to be a memorable night. The East Area Schools Office and Fine Arts Specialist Dr. Sabrina Nguyen are presenting the inaugural concert by the HISD District III Honor Choir.

The concert will take place at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 21, 2018, at Chavez High School, 8501 Howard Dr., 77017. The evening is presented in memory of Trustee Manuel Rodriguez Jr., who was instrumental in launching the East Area Fine Arts Initiative during the 2016-2017 academic year. Dr. Sergio Lira was elected to represent District III in November. “I support all fine arts programs in our schools because they enhance the academic achievements of all our students,” Trustee Lira said.  Continue reading

VH1 Save the Music and Hard Rock Heals foundations donate $25,000 to Scarborough ES 

It’s been a rough six months for Scarborough Elementary School students, staff, and parents since Hurricane Harvey flooded their school, making it uninhabitable.

“We suffered a bit of a bump back in August,” said Principal Miriam Medina. “When I saw waves of water inside our beautiful school, I knew we wouldn’t be opening on time.”

It took a month, but they finally reopened in the former Terrell Middle School, which was large enough that they could all be together. Now the students are gathered in the auditorium to celebrate the donation of $25,000 to their music program, thanks to VH1 Save the Music Foundation in partnership with Hard Rock Heals Foundation.   Continue reading

HISD Communications honored with 25 Star Awards, Platinum and Crystal certificates by TSPRA

The Houston Independent School District’s Communications Department picked up 25 Star Awards, as well as a Platinum Award Certificate of Merit and three Crystal Commendation Certificates of Merit, during the 2018 Texas School Public Relations Association Annual Conference in Frisco.

“We have a team of highly qualified individuals who are committed to doing exceptional work that supports and informs our schools and communities,” said HISD Communications Chief Rebecca Suarez. “It takes teamwork and dedication to tell the stories of HISD in an effective and compelling way, and I couldn’t be more proud of our department.”  Continue reading