HISD facility planners visit bond campuses, meet with principals

Now that the Houston Independent School District has laid out the construction timeline for the 40 schools slated to be rebuilt or renovated under the 2012 bond program, planners are busy visiting principals and campuses to learn about each school’s unique needs and goals.  

The goal is to get a better understanding of the specific attributes of every campus, from their educational programs and student population to their site needs, traffic flow and any other issues raised by the principal.

“This is designed to be a high level discussion intended as an informative session for all involved,” said Sue Robertson, HISD’s general manager of Facilities Planning.

Among her first visits was Young Men’s College Preparatory Academy in the heart of Houston’s South Park neighborhood. Formerly known as E.O. Smith Education Center, the school is among the first 17 schools slated for design and engineering in early 2013 with construction beginning by the end of 2014.

Young Men’s College Preparatory Academy is a unique campus – not only is it one of the only all- boy schools in the district, but the campus also features two separate buildings. Principal Dameion Crook said he hopes the new design will help create a more cohesive campus that also builds on the school’s deep ties with the community.

“E.O. Smith has been here forever, so our approach with how we engage the community with changing the facility will require a lot of attention,” Crook said. “We want to make sure all community stakeholders are involved and well aware of what is to come.”

The initial school visits are just the first step of a process that will include ongoing conversations with each school community about the school’s design and planning, Robertson said.  “We aim to have a process that involves all stakeholders and a school that each community can be proud of.”

HISD planners have visited seven schools so far and will visit the remaining 33 campus principals by early February.  In addition to school visits, other planning activities are occurring, including the “Building the Future” symposium that was held on Dec. 14, 2012.