When Sterling High School students, teachers and community members joined the school’s Project Advisory Team, they already had an idea of what they wanted their new school to look like.
They envisioned state-of-the-art technology, customized coursework and flexible learning spaces as the southeast Houston school begins the planning and design phase under the district’s $1.89 billion 2012 bond program.
“Our goal as a PAT is to hear all those voices of the community and find a way to take those guiding principles and move forward in a new building, so that the needs of parents, students and community members are (included),” Sterling Principal Dale Mitchell said.
Like Sterling, each construction project under the 2012 bond program has a Project Advisory Team consisting of five to eight members including school faculty, teachers, parents, community members, HISD officials and the selected architect. The district currently has 18 schools with active PATs holding monthly meetings to allow the school and community members to take part in the planning and design of new schools and to monitor the progress of construction.
“So far, the planning process has been beneficial and educational for our team,” HISD’s Senior Manager of Facility Planning Kedrick Wright said. “The PAT teams are embracing what the process is truly meant to be.”
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Although Wright said the planning among the PATs is going well, he said the teams also have the responsibility of disseminating information to their school stakeholders so everybody can stay involved in the process.
“Our PATs are a channel of getting information out to the community,” Wright said. “This will become more and more crucial as the building takes shape because we’ll need as much feedback from the community as possible.”
Besides ensuring the new school stays true to its culture, the PAT will also have specific duties, including helping select colors for flooring materials, paint for walls, fabric for furnishings, and provide input about the exterior appearance of the building. Members will also review drawings and work schedules from the architects to ensure the projects meet the budget needs.
During Sterling’s most recent PAT meeting, members reviewed the school’s high school capacity model and began determining the number of teaching stations (or classrooms) needed for each core academic course and electives.
Committee member Rev. Aris Hickman knows what to expect from the bond planning process – he was a member of Frost Elementary School’s project advisory under the 2007 bond program.
“The key role of project advisory team members is communication,” said Hickman, who is pastor at the nearby New Commandment Christian Fellowship Church. “The more you know, the more you can contribute and add to making the project a success.”
All Project Advisory Team meetings for bond campuses are open to the public and meeting schedules vary based on schools. PAT members are encouraged to remain with the team for the entire project, usually two to three years.