Winter holiday schedule: Classes resume Tuesday, Jan. 5

Central, administrative offices to reopen on Jan. 4 

Christmas Decoration

The Houston Independent School District’s 2015 Winter Holiday schedule is as follows:

Students do not attend school from Monday, Dec. 21, 2015, through Monday, Jan. 4, 2016. Students will return to school on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016.

HISD central and administrative offices will be closed beginning Monday, Dec. 21, 2015, and will reopen on Monday, Jan. 4, 2016.

Employees with questions should consult the duty schedules posted here.

The HISD Police Department will be patrolling district facilities during the holiday break. Emergencies should be reported by calling 713-892-7777.

Schools advance to ‘Elite 8’ round of Read to the Final Four

Eight HISD elementary schools advanced to the fourth round – the Elite 8 – of the NCAA Read to the Final Four Literacy Program, as we count down to The Final Four.

The third-grade students logged an additional 1,112,338 minutes of reading time for a total of more than 3 million minutes since the launch of the literacy competition.  More than 1,700 students at 16 schools logged reading time during this round.

Here is the ranking of elementary schools that made it to this round:

Number 8: Janowski

Number 7: Kennedy

Number 6: Marshall

Number 5: Browning

Number 4 : Tijerina

Number 3 : Anderson

Number 2: Carrillo Elementary

Number 1: Dogan

Congratulations to all the elementary schools in the contest. Third-graders participating in the fourth round received a book to keep, courtesy of the 2016 NCAA™ Men’s Final Four™. The competition was created by HISD in partnership with the Houston NCAA Final Four Local Organizing Committee, Houston Public Library, and University of Houston.

Students who did not advance should keep reading, because there may be additional prizes for top individual readers in April 2016.

Site work in progress for new Mickey Leland College Prep

This all boys prep academy will receive a new $42.4 million facility, located at 1701 Gregg Street, for a campus accommodating 900 to 1,000 students.

The new school will be built on the site of the former Wheatley/E.O. Smith building in the Fifth Ward, and the design plans include several features that will incorporate and honor the history and accomplishments of that school and its alumni.

Underground site prep and earth work is underway including site utilities, drilling and pouring of concrete piers, grade beams, and installation of under-slab plumbing.

The school has a target completion date in the  first quarter of 2017.

Photo gallery of HISD building projects

New Sharpstown International ahead of schedule

Sharpstown International is slated to receive renovations to its existing facilities and site improvements with a total program budget of $6.1 million. The project is comprised of three portions: updating and securing the main entrance, renovating the large breezeways to provide more flexible learning spaces, and building additional learning centers or flex lab spaces.

The main entrance will be retrofitted with a security vestibule that will provide controlled access and also give the building an updated modern feel. A pod of flexible learning spaces will be constructed in the heart of the campus, which is currently an internal courtyard. The main existing corridors, which are covered and partially open to the elements, will be updated, enclosed and air conditioned to make the space more inviting and usable for a variety of student and community activities.

The project is well ahead of schedule and is expected to begin construction in the first half of 2016, and take about 18 months to complete.

Photo gallery of HISD building projects

First magnet deadline is today at 11:59 p.m.

The first magnet deadline to apply for guaranteed consideration in the first round ends today, Dec. 18, at 11:59 p.m. Any applications received after today’s deadline will be considered only for schools where there is still space available.

Completed applications can be submitted in the following three ways:

* Submit it online at hisdchoice.com (online applications provide more options for tracking and staying up-to-date)

* Hand-deliver or send by U.S. mail to the Office of School Choice at 4400 West 18th Street, Houston, TX 77092

* Scan the paper application and e-mail it to magnet@houstonisd.org, along with the required documents

The big day is March 24, 2016. That’s when parents will learn the status of their application – results will be available online and also sent by mail. If a child has been offered a seat in a program, the parents have two weeks to provide proof of residence and sign an entrance agreement.

If their student is placed on a waiting list, parents can monitor changes in application status throughout the summer, at which time they may be able to submit additional applications to programs with available seats.

For more information on the magnet application process, please contact HISD’s Office of School Choice at 713-556-6947.

HISD Office of Internal Audit finds no evidence of improper test procedures at Reagan HS

The Houston Independent School District Office of Internal Audit completed its investigation into allegations of improper testing processes at Reagan High School, and found no evidence to support the claims.

The investigation was launched in August 2015 after the Office of Internal Audit learned of allegations made by a retired teacher who indicated students were allowed to re-take failed final exams multiple times until they earned a passing grade. The teacher further alleged that students were allowed to re-test with corrected scantrons to aid in passing.

Auditors spoke with the retired teacher, who reported overhearing other teachers talk about such a grading practice that was taking place during Saturday school tutorials. The retired teacher told auditors he never witnessed the practice nor did he have documentation of it.

During the course of the investigation, the Office of Internal Audit identified one instance in which a teacher allowed students to re-use scantrons that only had marks on one side and were blank on the other. The scantrons were used for later exams covering different course content.

Auditors also discovered an instance five years ago that involved a teacher who was asked to tutor a student who had failed a physics course in the fall, making him ineligible to graduate in the spring. The teacher tasked with tutoring the student was given a copy of the student’s initial final exam. The student attended Saturday school tutorials, passed the class and was able to graduate on time. The investigation found no policy violation in this instance.

View a copy of the Office of Internal Audit’s investigative report.

New Condit ES to open for 2016-2017 school year

With the new school construction as a backdrop, this fall students, parents, staff, and neighbors added their signatures to a steel beam that was used in the building of the new Condit Elementary School.

The school is being built adjacent to the existing building while students continue to attend classes. The new $24.3 million facility for 750 students will feature a centralized learning commons area surrounded by a two-story cluster of classrooms, an open-concept design with plenty of natural light and flexible work spaces.

The school has a target opening of August 2016.

Photo gallery of HISD building projects

HISD announces partnership with Taipei Department of Education

The Houston Independent School District joined Thursday with the Department of Education in Taipei to celebrate the formalization of an international partnership between the two organizations.

The Partnerships in Education agreement formally solidifies the friendship between the two entities, allowing the pair to become “sister” organizations. It includes opportunities for the sharing of educational information, coursework and teaching methods between HISD and educators in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, a world leader in information technologies. Continue reading