More than half of bond projects to be completed by year’s end

With eight projects slated to open for the next school year, and six more wrapping up in the third and fourth quarters, HISD is on track to complete 55 percent of bond projects by the end of 2017.

”We’re really excited about the progress made in this past quarter,” Officer of Construction Services Derrick Sanders told members of the Bond Oversight Committee on Tuesday during their regular quarterly meeting. “We opened Sterling High School and Delmar Fieldhouse, and both turned out to be really wonderful spaces.”

Schools set to open in time for the start of 2017-2018 school year include DeBakey High School for Health Professions, Mickey Leland College Preparatory Academy for Young Men, Sharpstown International School, and Milby, Furr, Wisdom, Waltrip, and Kashmere high schools.

Schools set for completion in the third or fourth quarters are Parker Elementary School, Eastwood Academy, Lawson Middle School, and North Forest, Sharpstown, and Scarborough high schools.

After hearing reports on bond finance, business assistance and communications, Bond Oversight Committee members were briefed on a district proposal that would allow nearly $99.1 million in forecasted bond surplus funds to be used for outstanding needs at bond campuses across the district.

About $20.3 million of the projected bond surplus funds come from addition and renovation projects, while about $52 million comes from new school projects. Another $12 million in surplus comes from districtwide projects and $14.8 million from construction contingency.

The plan would allow each of the nine renovated schools to keep their respective surplus funds to address outstanding programmatic needs. The proposal would redirect forecasted bond surplus funds from new school projects to 16 designated bond campuses. The realignment would help ensure those campuses are completed as described to voters in the 2012 election.

“It’s a great plan,” said Board President Wanda Adams, who attended the meeting. “Our schools deserve it. I think it’s a fair way to distribute the funds.”

The $12 million in surplus funds from districtwide projects would be used to enhance safety and security at campuses not currently part of the 2012 bond program.

The Board of Education is set to consider the proposal during a board workshop on Thursday.

“We had schools that we had to reduce scope to fit the budget,” noted Bond Oversight Committee member Craig Johnson. “Now we are in a position to go back and add some of that scope back in that we didn’t think would originally fit into budget.”

Also during the meeting, committee members were briefed on bond technology projects by Chief Technology Information Officer Lenny Schad and on the state school finance system and recapture process by Chief Financial Officer Rene Barajas and Budgeting and Financial Planning General Manager Glenn Reed.

Additionally, the committee heard reports on minority- and women-owned business enterprise participation rates, which continue to track above board-established goals, and communications and community engagement initiatives, which included six groundbreakings, two grand openings, and three beam signings in the first quarter.

Superintendent Richard Carranza also stopped by the meeting to thank the volunteer committee members for their service and answer questions.

“There’s a can-do spirit in Houston that I’ve not seen in other communities I’ve worked in,” Carranza said, after being asked how HISD differed from other districts in which he worked. “I’ve never worked with a more talented team. We are very focused on equity to ensure that we are serving all students in an equitable way.”

The next quarterly meeting will be held on July 25.

For more information about the Bond Oversight Committee or any HISD building program, visit www.BuildHISD.org.

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