HISD Bond Oversight Committee tours new Condit ES, gets update on 2012 Bond Program

Condit Elementary School Principal Dan Greenberg shared his vision for 21st century learning on Tuesday as he led HISD Bond Oversight Committee members on a tour of his new school, which opens for students next  month.

Placing an emphasis on modern learning styles, the two-story school features bright colors, open spaces, large windows that let in copious amounts of light, and curved walls that create lots of seating nooks.

White boards are found throughout the hallways, creating pockets where students can gather and learn throughout the building.

“Learning is going to take place not just in the classroom, but outside,” Greenberg said, describing his plans for the new school. “We want every part of our building to be used in the learning process.”

Condit Elementary School is among 40 schools across the district being renovated or rebuilt as part of the district’s 2012 Bond Program. The school construction tour kicked off the July meeting of the Bond Oversight Committee, scheduled to review second quarter progress.

Originally built in 1909, Condit moved to its current facility in Bellaire just over 100 years ago, with an addition built in 1927. Located on the existing campus, the new building incorporates the school’s history into its modern design. An original brick archway is featured in the new front entrance and wooden accent paneling mimics the look of the hardwood floor in the old building.

The Learning Commons, which replaces a traditional library, and Learning Staircase, which serves as a spot for impromptu lessons, are key design features in the 750-student, $24 million project. The Learning Commons includes a makerspace, where students can gather to create, invent and learn.

“It’s impressive,” Bond Oversight Committee Member Bob Eury said as he walked down the second-floor hallway, past a large wall of windows. “It’s interesting — it’s intimate in size.”

Following the tour, the committee settled into a first-floor lab for an update on the bond program’s second quarter, which extends from April through June.

HISD Construction Officer Derrick Sanders noted that construction was underway at 22 campuses — more than at any other time in district history. Of those projects, six new schools — Condit and Mark White elementary schools, Mandarin Immersion Magnet School, North Houston and South early college high schools, and North Forest Early Childhood Center — will open their doors for the 2016-2017 school year.

Seven construction contracts were executed in the second quarter, Sanders said, adding that construction contracts on all but four projects will have been executed by the end of the third quarter. Sanders also noted that three more projects were nearing completion —Sterling Aviation High School, Delmar Fieldhouse, and renovations at Waltrip High School.

“By the time we meet again, we’ll have six new schools open, 10 more contracts signed and seven more projects under construction,” Sanders told the committee as they wrapped up the meeting. “There’s been a lot done. There is a lot more still to do.”

In addition to project-specific questions, committee members inquired about the funding method for construction of non-bond schools, which includes North Forest Early Childhood Center, North Forest High School and Energy Institute High School. Members also asked about the status of current construction pricing and whether or not the district would need to use the supplemental funding. Reports on finance, communications and M/WBE also were discussed.