Plenty of Time To Join Project Advisory Teams for 2012 Bond Program

PAT_coverWant to help guide the 2012 bond project at your school?  There’s no better way than getting involved with your school’s Project Advisory Team, which will help lead the planning and design of new facilities across the district.

Sharpstown High School Principal Rob Gasparello wasted no time recruiting members for his PAT, which is typically made up of parents, teachers, community members and students. His school is among the first group of 17 schools to be built as part of the 2012 bond program.

“We want the final product to be the sum of its parts,” Gasparello said. “We want to gather as much input of what a 21st century school really needs to look like — we don’t want just one point of view.”

Gasparello said a March 21 community meeting at the school will kick off a succession of meetings for the PAT. “We’re trying to make sure that if you (want to be on the team), you’re in for the long haul — and that’s a commitment to make, by students, staff and community members,” he said.

Learn more about the Project Advisory Teams

Project Advisory Teams are often used by school districts across the country in their building programs. Here in HISD, they got their start with the 2007 bond program, which included more than 180 construction and renovation projects.

The 2012 bond program will build or renovate 40 schools in HISD, including 29 high schools. Each campus is expected to have a PAT throughout the design and construction process. The groups typically meet monthly and are open to anyone who wants to attend.

Sue Robertson, HISD’s general manager for Facilities Planning, said the teams are a great asset in the construction planning process.  Her office is distributing handbooks to all the bond campuses so that everyone understands the role and responsibilities of PAT members.

“In order to build great schools, it’s essential to get input from those who know their schools and communities the best,” Robertson said. “Keeping the information flowing both ways will result in schools that support 21st century learning models, and that’s what we’re here to do.”

Learn more about the 2012 bond program

Mandarin Chinese Language Immersion School Principal Bryan Bordelon said his school is unique and requires a design to reflect that attribute.

“We draw from 63 zip codes and 102 zoned schools, our students and parents come from literally all over the city,” Bordelon said. “By involving a variety of voices and insights of our stakeholders, we are able to make sure that everyone has a chance to give their input into the design and construction of our new school.”

Neil Verma had no reservations about signing up for the Mandarin Chinese Language Immersion School PAT. “My wife and I are neighbors with the school,” Verma said.  The curriculum [here]  is so unique and groundbreaking that I wanted to be a part of the future of the school, which I believe is an asset to both our neighborhood and the city.”

Kerry Nelson, another member of the Mandarin Chinese Language Immersion School PAT, said she sees her participation as a way of giving back to her community.

“I am proud to live in Houston, grateful for the education my own children received in HISD schools, and hopeful that I can bring something of value to the table along the way.”