HISD’s Bond Program continues to make steady progress with eight new or renovated schools set to open to students in August and another eight set for completion in the following two quarters.
“All but one of our projects have finalized construction documents, and by the end of this summer we’ll be at roughly 50 percent completion,” HISD Construction Services Officer Derrick Sanders said Tuesday during the quarterly meeting of the district’s Bond Oversight Committee. “We’re really excited about the progress.”
Bond Oversight Committee members heard from Sanders and other members of the district’s bond team as they discussed the status of building programs and reviewed second quarter progress during the group’s regular meeting.
The new schools set to open next month include Furr, Milby and Wisdom high schools, and Mickey Leland College Preparatory Academy for Young Men. Renovated schools set to open include Kashmere and Waltrip high schools, Sharpstown International School, and Codwell Elementary, which is not funded by the 2012 Bond.DeBakey High School for Health Professions was completed in the second quarter and opened to students for summer school.
”I’ve talked to several students at DeBakey, and the gleam in their eye was just awesome,” Bond Oversight Committee member Craig Johnson said. “Great job.”
Projects set for completion in the final quarter of 2017 and first quarter of 2018 completion include Sharpstown, North Forest, Washington, and Scarborough high schools, High School for Law and Justice, Parker Elementary, and Eastwood and Pilgrim academies.
A dozen other projects already have been completed as part of the 2012 Bond Program. They include Sterling Aviation High School, North Houston Early and South Early college high schools, Condit and Mark White elementary schools, Mandarin Immersion Magnet School, Fonwood Early Childhood Center, Worthing High School (Phase 1), Tanglewood Middle School, Delmar Fieldhouse, and Butler and Barnet stadiums.
Also moving forward is the Bellaire High School project, the bond team reported to committee members. With consensus reached on design plans, Bellaire High School has a target completion date of fourth quarter 2020.
“We’re happy to report we’re in a good place with Bellaire,” said Dan Bankhead, general manager of facilities design. “Working with everybody, we were able to come to a solution.”
Also during the meeting, the committee was briefed on the financial status of the program and heard a report on furniture and the important role it plays in 21st Century schools.
Schools in the bond program are outfitted with new furniture designed to not only support diverse learning styles and new teaching methods, but also to be flexible and comfortable enough to keep students engaged.
“Teachers don’t just stand at the front of the room and lecture anymore,” Bankhead said. “Learning is everywhere, so we’re getting furniture to support that style.
The committee also 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 two grand openings, two groundbreakings, one beam signing, and one topping out celebration in the second quarter.
“Looking forward, the team is fully engaged and committed to making progress,” Sanders said. “The big majority of schools will be complete by the end of 2018, then six more in 2019, and Bellaire in 2020.”
HISD’s $1.89 billion bond program to replace or renovate 40 schools across the district was approved by Houston voters in 2012 by a two-to-one margin. In addition to campus-based projects, the program also includes work benefitting students across the district, including $100 million in technology upgrades, $44.7 million to replace regional fieldhouses and improve athletics facilities, $35 million to renovate middle school restrooms, and $17.3 million for safety and security improvements.
The Bond Oversight Committee is an independent citizens’ committee tasked with monitoring the bond program, ensuring revenues are spent appropriately and evaluating program risks and controls. The group meets quarterly, with the next meeting scheduled for Oct. 24, 2017.
For more information on the Bond Oversight Committee or any HISD building program, visit www.BuildHISD.org