More than 150 people turned out for HISD’s first two community meetings on Tuesday to hear about the progress to rebuild Booker T. Washington High School and DeBakey High School for Health Professions under the district’s $1.89 billion bond program.
“The community was impressed with the work our project advisory team has done and the ideas they presented,” said DeBakey Principal Agnes E. Perry about the meeting at DeBakey, which drew about 75 people. “They liked being able to walk around to different stations to see the design drafts and to meet with the designers.”
The two community meetings held this week are part of a series of similar events for the first group of schools slated for construction within the 2012 bond program. The goal is to present the work done so far in the planning and design process and to gather additional feedback to help guide the final drawings.
At Booker T. Washington High School, more than 75 people came to see the design drawings, including different possibilities for how to place the new building on the site so students can attend school at the current facility while the new one is being built.
The proposed campus designs were developed to maximize flexibility and highlight the school’s engineering program with labs and outdoor spaces that allow for hands-on activities and student collaboration.
“Students won’t be clustered in just one area,” said Sabona Simbassa, a senior at Washington High School. “In the courtyard, students can work on assignments or just chill out there. This creates more space for student organizations to meet or practice in different places, too.”
The DeBakey principal said Tuesday’s community meeting offered a good way to engage stakeholders in the design process of the new campus, especially those who can’t make it to the monthly Project Advisory Team meetings.
“The taxpayers and the community accepted the bond proposal to revitalize and rebuild these schools,” she said. “We owe it to the community to be accountable and keep everyone involved in the process.”
The event at DeBakey drew Texas Medical Center Senior Vice President and General Counsel Shawn W. Cloonan and HISD Board Trustee Paula Harris. At Washington, State Rep. Sylvester Turner and HISD Board Trustee Rhonda Skillern-Jones attended the event.
“We have to build spaces where kids are engaged and want to be here,” Skillern-Jones said.
The district has pledged to host at least three community meetings for each bond campus during the different phases of the building program.