Bond Oversight Committee tours Milby HS, hears update on third quarter construction progress

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The Houston Independent School District’s Bond Oversight Committee got an inside look at the new Milby High School while touring the campus as part of their regular quarterly meeting on Tuesday.

The eight-member group got to see 21st century learning in action as they made their way through the dining commons, library, gym, and various classroom spaces, including the welding, science, and culinary arts labs.

They also walked through the large central courtyard and got to see the historic main entrance, which now leads to a park-like green space.

“It’s wonderful to see such a great facility for Milby,” BOC member and 1978 Milby graduate David Quan said. “I had a big smile on my face for the entire tour.”

Milby High School opened this fall after being rebuilt as part of the district’s voter-approved 2012 Bond Program. The $79 million project called for a new school that preserved the original architecturally significant building structure and could accommodate up to 2,000 students.

The campus tour — led by Milby Principal Roy de la Garza and HISD General Manager for Facilities Design Dan Bankhead — kicked off the October meeting of the Bond Oversight Committee.

“I’m so happy to see that they were able to maintain the older building and incorporate the new,” BOC member Phoebe Tudor said. “I think they did a really good job with it. The result is quite positive.”

Following the tour, the group was served breakfast prepared by Milby culinary arts students and watched a video on the nine new and renovated schools that opened their doors for the first time this fall.

See video on HISD’s newest schools.

HISD Construction Services Officer Derrick Sanders then provided the committee with a 2012 Bond progress report. He noted that 44 percent of all 2012 Bond projects are now done, and almost two-thirds are expected to be finished by the end of March 2018.

“We completed nine schools this summer. That is a lot,” Sanders said. “I’m proud of the team and the quality schools we’re building.”

The new schools that opened this fall include Furr, Milby and Wisdom high schools, and Mickey Leland College Preparatory Academy for Young Men. DeBakey High School for Health Professions technically opened to students in time for summer school, but this fall marked the first time it opened to all students.

Renovated schools that opened this fall include Kashmere and Waltrip high schools, Sharpstown International School, and Codwell Elementary, which is not funded by the 2012 Bond.

Four more projects are set for completion by the end of 2017, Sanders reported. They are Sharpstown, North Forest, Washington, and Scarborough high schools. Another four projects — High School for Law and Justice, Parker Elementary School, and Eastwood and Pilgrim academies — are set to be complete by the end of the first quarter in 2018.

Sanders reported that all 2012 Bond schools are now under construction with the exception of one — Bellaire High School. Bankhead noted that the City of Bellaire recently approved the design plans, and the project is now moving forward.

The committee also was briefed by HISD General Manager for Construction Andreas Peeples on the status of middle school restroom renovations. Peeples displayed before and after photos as he reported that all renovations were now complete.

The oversight committee also heard updates on the financial status of the 2012 Bond Program, as well as minority- and women-owned business enterprise participation rates, which continue to track above board-established goals.

Additionally, members were informed about communications and community engagement efforts, including the launch of a new twitter account — @Build_HISD — designed to provide updates and information to targeted bond stakeholder groups and the coordination of four project milestone celebrations held to celebrate and promote construction progress.

HISD’s $1.89 billion bond program 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 Jan. 30, 2018.

Follow @Build_HISD on Twitter for the latest construction updates on the 2012 Bond Program and school construction across the district.