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Early voting begins today: Houstonians cast their votes

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Don’t miss your chance to vote on the 2012 Houston Schools Bond Proposition – it’s at the very end of the ballot.
 
• See polling locations, hours and more

Early voting for the November 6 General Election is underway in Houston and across Texas. As of mid-day, 17,372 people had cast their ballot in Harris County, which is on pace with turnout reported during the same period of the 2008 presidential election.  

In addition to the race for president, there are a number of local races and measures on the ballot, including the Houston Schools Bond. The $1.89 billion proposition is the very last item on the ballot. It would rebuild or renovate 38 schools in neighborhoods across Houston, upgrade technology across the district, renovate middle school restrooms, fund safety and security improvements, and upgrade regional field houses and athletic facilities.

Graduates from Austin High School were among the first people to vote at the Metropolitan Multi-Services Center on West Gray. Jill Mussman, a parent of an HISD graduate, also voted early at that polling location.

 “I’m here so I don’t have to stand in line on Election Day,” she said.

Early voting runs from today until November 2. To see a list of polling places, visit harrisvotes.com.

After you cast your vote, send a “vote early” photo to hisdphotos@yahoo.com

Schools get creative in getting out the vote

Schools across the district are getting into the voting spirit with campus-based campaigns  to raise awareness about Election Day and the opportunity to vote early, from Oct. 22 through Nov. 2.

Voters will not only be choosing a new president this election but will decide whether to approve HISD’s $1.89 billion bond proposition that would focus on rebuilding and modernizing the city’s high schools, as well as provide safety and technology upgrades across the district.

At Hobby Elementary School, parents and students decorated the campus in red, white and blue colors to promote voting.  Principal Stephen Gittens says the goal was to build awareness about the importance of casting a ballot.

“We’ve sent home fliers, we’ve done call-outs, we’ve shared information with our PTOs,” said Gittens, whose school enrolls  834 elementary students in southwest Houston.

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Roosevelt Elementary celebrates official dedication

Near the finale of Wednesday’s official dedication ceremony for Theodore Roosevelt Elementary, at least one parent in the crowd let out a grito — a celebratory yell — during the final performance of a visiting mariachi band comprised of students.

It certainly wasn’t the only rave review at the school this morning.

Roosevelt Elementary, a Vanguard school for gifted and talented students, opened the doors to its new campus building in late November 2011, more than 80 years after the school originally opened.

The two-story school serves about 750 students, and most, if not all of them, Roosevelt principal Armando Lujan said, really enjoy learning with the new technology the school now uses.

“The students love this building,” he said. “They love the SMART boards, they love the technology. They love the fact that we are able to broadcast news over the SMART boards.”

During the celebration, attendees were entertained by three different musical groups, including songs by the school’s Pre-K students and its new choir team, as well as bookended performances by the mariachi band from Jefferson Davis High School.

Inside the school, students have access to a central library and large multi-purpose room, one Lujan said was nearly unusable in the old school. The design of the school allows for more natural light inside the hallways and classrooms, results in a nearly 20 percent reduction in energy use from the previous building.

“It’s come a long way,” said Mary Morales, president of the school’s Parent-Teacher Organization and mother to two students currently at Roosevelt. “It’s like the best thing they could give these kids nowadays that we didn’t have when we were younger.

“It’s wonderful,” she said. “It helps (students) out a lot more. It expands their minds a lot more. I remember when I was little, I wasn’t doing projects. Now they are.”

The school was built with approximately $16.5 million from the bond program approved by voters in 2007. Roosevelt is one of 20 new schools built with funds from that bond program.

HISD Board of Education Calls Election to Rebuild Houston’s High Schools

Houston voters will decide in November whether to approve a bond referendum to modernize outdated high school buildings and build new schools to meet students’ needs across the city.

The HISD Board of Education approved calling an election on the bond proposal by a vote of 8-1.  Trustee Greg Meyers voted against the proposal.

The proposal seeks voter approval of a $1.89 billion plan to address the most serious facility needs in 38 schools. The proposal would:

Provide new campuses for 20 high schools

  • Austin
  • Bellaire
  • Davis
  • DeBakey
  • Eastwood
  • Furr
  • High School for the Performing and Visual Arts
  • Jordan
  • Lamar
  • Lee
  • Madison
  • Milby
  • North Early College
  • Sam Houston
  • Sharpstown
  • South Early College
  • Sterling
  • Washington
  • Worthing
  • Yates

Partially replace 4 high schools

  • Waltrip
  • Young Men’s College Prep Academy
  • Westbury
  • Young Women’s College Prep Academy

Renovate 4 high schools

  • Jones
  • Kashmere
  • Scarborough
  • Sharpstown International

 

Convert 5 elementary schools into K-8 campuses

 

  • Garden Oaks Montessori
  • Mandarin Chinese Language Immersion School at Gordon
  • Pilgrim Academy
  • Wharton Dual Language School
  • Wilson Montessori

Build 3 new elementary school campuses

 

  • Askew
  • Parker
  • Relief school on the west side

Replace/complete 2 new middle school campuses

 

  • Grady (new addition to complete new campus)
  • Dowling (new campus)

 In addition, the proposed measure would include funds that would improve conditions for students in all HISD schools. Those proposals include:

  • $100 million for district-wide technology improvements
  • $44.7 million to replace regional field houses and improve athletic facilities
  • $35 million to renovate middle school restrooms
  • $17.3 million for district-wide safety and security improvements

The Board of Education also agreed to rebuild two schools – Condit Elementary and High School for Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice – either through the sale surplus district property, or by using any potential leftover bond funds.

If approved by voters, design work of the new schools would begin in early 2013 and the first construction projects would start in 2014.

While including millions of dollars in recommended projects that would benefit students at all 279 schools in the district, the proposed bond package focuses heavily — $1.36 billion — on the city’s high schools. HISD’s most recent bond programs approved by voters in 1998, 2002 and 2007 primarily addressed needs at the elementary school level.  The average age of HISD secondary schools now stands at 50 years, compared to 39 years for the district’s primary schools. 

Many of these schools were designed to meet the needs of students more than half a century ago and are no longer able to accommodate the best instructional approaches for helping today’s students meet rising academic expectations, according to independent school facilities experts who recently assessed HISD schools.

Modern schools feature design elements that are shown to positively impact student achievement. Some of these elements include:

  • Greater classroom configuration flexibility to help teachers differentiate their approaches to meet the needs of each child
  • Classroom designs that encourage collaborative learning
  • Improved access to technology
  • Infrastructure for the latest career and technical education programs
  • Lab spaces that offer hands-on science learning

Historic neighborhood schools and prestigious schools of choice to be replaced

 

The proposed bond package would completely rebuild some of Houston’s most historic neighborhood high schools across the city.  The proposal also includes new campuses for some of HISD’s prestigious specialty schools, including the nationally renowned High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, DeBakey High School for Health Professions, and Eastwood Academy.  All three schools made this year’s Children at Risk list of the Houston region’s Top 10 high schools.

The new HSPVA would be built downtown near Houston’s vaunted Theater District on land that HISD already owns at 1300 Capitol. HISD is working on an agreement that would allow the district to build DeBakey on property within the Texas Medical Center.

Exteriors of architecturally important schools to remain

The bond proposal recognizes the importance of protecting the character of some of HISD’s historic neighborhood high schools. Some new schools will maintain their existing building structures while their interiors are transformed. These schools include Austin, Davis, Lamar, and Milby.

Some of the schools recommended for major construction work are among those that had renovations under the 2007 bond program.  In many of those cases, the previously completed work will be incorporated into the new building design.

Even with the many projects included in the bond proposal, HISD schools still have many additional facility needs that remain unaddressed.  Those needs will be identified as HISD moves forward with developing a comprehensive long-range capital improvement plan.

Property tax implications

 

Because of the district’s strong fiscal management practices, HISD has been able to maintain the lowest property tax rate of the 20-plus school districts in Harris County. In addition, HISD is among the few districts in Texas that offer an optional 20 percent homestead exemption on top of the standard $15,000 exemption that other school districts offer. 

If an election is called, and voters approve the bond package, HISD would likely adopt a property tax rate increase in the future.  This tax rate increase would have no impact on the homesteads of HISD residents age 65 and older, because their tax rates are frozen.

HISD anticipates gradually phasing in a tax rate increase that in 2017 would reach a maximum of 4.85 cents per $100 of taxable value. For the owner of the average HISD home with a market value of $198,936, this would mean a monthly cost of $5.83, or $70 per year beginning in 2017.  Under this estimate, the property tax rate would increase by 1 penny in 2014, another penny in 2016, and 2.85 cents in 2017.

This estimated tax rate impact is lower than previously estimated. There are two primary reasons for the revised estimate:

  • HISD’s certified 2013 tax roll has increased since the initial estimate was made.
  • A projected 1 percent annual increase in HISD property values through 2028.

School construction and renovation work approved by HISD voters in 2007 is nearing completion under budget. When the school year begins later this month, HISD will have opened 20 new or replacement schools under that bond program, 2 more new schools are under construction, and 2 are in the planning stage.  More than 100 HISD campuses have undergone renovations so far.  Click here for more detailed information about the work completed under the 2007 bond program.

HISD Board of Education to vote on 2012 Bond Proposal

Following weeks of consideration, the HISD Board of Education is expected to vote on calling a referendum for the 2012 bond proposal at its scheduled meeting on Thursday, August 9.

The proposal, totaling $1.89 billion, would provide funding for construction at 38 schools, including 28 high schools that would be rebuilt, renovated or remodeled, as well as other districtwide projects. The bond proposal item to be presented to the board can be viewed on page 23 of the board agenda (PDF).

More information about the bond proposal, documentation used in the proposal and community surveys about the district’s schools can be found on our main website. For those unable to attend the board meeting at 5 p.m. in the Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center, you can watch it live online or on HISD TV.

As of today, there are only 90 days until Election Day. If you’ve yet to register to vote, you can find more information about registering and download an application at the Harris County Tax Office’s website.

Twenty Houston ISD High Schools Would Get New Campuses Under Bond Proposal

A revised 2012 bond proposal presented to the HISD Board of Education on Thursday would modernize outdated high schools across the city. The proposal would:

Provide new campuses for 20 high schools

  • Austin
  • Bellaire
  • Davis
  • DeBakey
  • Eastwood
  • Furr
  • High School for the Performing and Visual Arts
  • Jordan
  • Lamar
  • Lee
  • Madison
  • Milby
  • North Early College
  • Sam Houston
  • Sharpstown
  • South Early College
  • Sterling
  • Washington
  • Worthing
  • Yates Continue reading

2012 Bond Proposal Calls for New DeBakey High School in the Heart of the Texas Medical Center

The 2012 bond proposal includes $64.5 million to rebuild DeBakey High School for Health Professions. The new campus would be located in the heart of the Texas Medical Center and would provide students with expanded access to health care and research facilities. DeBakey is one several HISD magnet and specialty schools that would be rebuilt under the 2012 Bond proposal.

DeBakey

Current DeBakey HS.

A new campus is also planned for the nationally renowned High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. It would be built downtown near Houston’s vaunted Theater District on land that HISD already owns at 1300 Capitol.

HSPVA

HSPVA would get a new campus under the 2012 bond.

 In all, the 2012 bond proposal includes funding to rebuild or renovate 38 schools, upgrade technology in all HISD classrooms, and make other districtwide improvements. The Board of Education is set to vote on the 2012 bond proposal on August 9. If an election is called and the measure is approved by voters in November, the design phase of the bond project could begin in early 2013 and construction of new schools would likely start in 2014.

Board of Education Discusses Proposal to Rebuild 20 High Schools

The HISD Board of Education is meeting to discuss a proposal for rebuilding high schools across the city. Here are some highlights from the discussion, which you can follow on Twitter, @HoustonISD:

Staff has spent weeks scrutinizing and fine-tuning the initial $1.89 billion proposal for rebuilding and modernizing schools. Adjustments have been made to the proposed capacities for several new schools included in the HISD bond proposal, including a brand new DeBakey HS to be located inside the Texas Medical Center at a cost of $64.5 million.

The HISD bond proposal would rebuild the following high schools:

  • Bellaire
  • Davis
  • DeBakey
  • Furr
  • HSPVA
  • Jordan
  • Lee
  • Madison
  • Sharpstown
  • Sterling
  • Washington
  • Worthing
  • Yates
  • Austin
  • Davis
  • Milby
  • Sam Houston
  • Eastwood
  • North Early College
  • South Early College

Also, a new addition and renovations to Wilson Montessori K-8 School.

To see specific proposals for each campus and for districtwide projects, click here.

HISD Board of Education to Discuss Possible Bond Election

The HISD Board of Education will meet on Tuesday to discuss details of a possible bond referendum that aims to address facility needs at schools in neighborhoods across the district.
Forty-two schools across Houston, including 28 high schools, would be rebuilt, renovated, or renewed under a recommended bond package presented for the HISD Board of Education’s consideration last month.
The board must decide by August whether to seek approval of the $1.89 billion proposal from Houston Independent School District voters during the Nov. 6 general election.
The board will meet to discuss the plan at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, July 10, and at 4 p.m. on Thursday, July 12. Both public workshop meetings will take place at the Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center, 4400 W. 18th Street.
While including nearly $224 million in recommended projects that would benefit students at all 279 schools in the district, the proposed bond package focuses heavily on the city’s high schools. HISD’s most recent bond programs approved by voters in 1998, 2002 and 2007 have primarily addressed needs at the elementary school level. The average age of HISD secondary schools now stands at 50 years, compared to 39 years for the district’s primary schools.
The proposed bond package would completely rebuild some of Houston’s most historic neighborhood high schools across the city, while others would undergo renovations and renewals. The proposal also includes new campuses for some of HISD’s prestigious specialty magnet schools, including the nationally renowned High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. The new HSPVA would be built downtown near Houston’s vaunted Theater District on land that HISD already owns at 1300 Capitol.

The proposal calls for $1.66 billion to be spent on improvements at 42 schools. This would cover:

• $577 million to completely replace 8 high schools

o Furr
o High School for the Performing and Visual Arts
o Lee
o Madison
o Sharpstown
o Sterling
o Booker T. Washington
o Yates

• $354 million to replace the inadequate facilities at 4 high schools

o Bellaire
o Lamar

o Sam Houston
o Westbury

• $259 million to replace inadequate facilities and renovate 5 high schools

o Austin
o Eastwood Academy
o Milby
o Waltrip
o Worthing

• $27 million to build 2 new early college high schools

o North Early College
o South Early College

• $61 million to renovate or renew 9 high schools

o Davis
o DeBakey
o Jones
o Jordan
o Kashmere
o Scarborough
o Sharpstown International High School
o Young Men’s College Preparatory Academy
o Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy

• $121 million to convert 4 elementary schools into K-8 campuses

o Garden Oaks
o Pilgrim Academy
o Wharton Dual Language
o Mandarin Chinese Language Immersion Magnet School at Gordon

• $73 million to replace Dowling Middle School and expand Grady Middle School

• $126 million to replace 5 elementary schools

o Askew
o Condit
o Kelso
o MacGregor
o Parker

• $67 million to renovate and make building additions at K. Smith Elementary, replace inadequate facilities and renovate Tijerina Elementary, and build a new elementary school on the district’s west end to reduce overcrowding

The proposed $224 million in district wide projects would cover:

• Technology upgrades at all HISD schools ($100 million)
• District athletic facility improvements ($42 million)
• Middle school restroom renovations ($35 million)
• Safety and security improvements ($27 million)
• Land acquisition ($20 million)

The proposal was developed after a review of HISD’s facilities by Parsons, an independent firm that specializes in the assessment, design, and project management of education facilities. Click here to review documents that were used to develop the proposal.
Because of the district’s strong fiscal management practices, HISD has been able to maintain the lowest property tax rate of the 20-plus school districts in Harris County.
If an election is called, and voters approve the bond package, HISD would likely adopt a property tax rate increase in the future. This tax rate increase would have no impact on the homesteads of HISD residents age 65 and older, because their tax rates are frozen.
HISD estimates that the tax rate increase would be phased in over a 4-year period, beginning with an estimated 2-cent increase in 2014. This would result in an additional $29 in yearly taxes for the owner of a home valued at $200,000. By 2017, the total tax rate increase resulting from the bond’s passage would reach 6.85 cents, raising the average tax bill by $99 a year, or $8.25 per month.
School construction and renovation work approved by HISD voters in 2007 is nearing completion under budget. So far, HISD has opened 16 new or replacement schools under that bond program, 7 more new schools are under construction, and 2 more are in the planning stage. More than 100 HISD campuses have undergone renovations so far. Click here for more detailed information about the work completed under the 2007 bond program.

HISD Bond Package Would Rebuild High Schools, Address Campus Needs in Neighborhoods Across Houston

Forty-two schools across Houston, including 24 high schools, would be rebuilt, renovated, or renewed under a recommended bond package presented for the HISD Board of Education’s consideration on Thursday.

The board must decide by August whether to seek approval of the $1.89 billion proposal from Houston Independent School District voters during the Nov. 6 general election.

While including nearly $225 million in recommended projects that would benefit students at all 279 schools in the district, the proposed bond package focuses heavily on the city’s high schools. HISD’s most recent bond programs approved by voters in 1998, 2002 and 2007 have primarily addressed needs at the elementary school level.  The average age of HISD secondary schools now stands at 50 years, compared to 39 years for the district’s elementary schools. 

Many of these schools were designed to meet the needs of students in the 1950s and are no longer able to accommodate the best instructional approaches for helping today’s students meet rising academic expectations, according to independent school facilities experts who presented their findings to the board on Thursday.

Superintendent Terry Grier agreed the district’s high schools are long overdue for major improvements.

“Houston’s prosperity of today is rooted in the historic high schools erected generations ago by our city’s visionary leaders who knew the value of a solid long-term investment,” Dr. Grier said.  “Now is the time for today’s generation to step up and follow their lead.  Houston’s high schools should be places of pride for every neighborhood and, more importantly, the students they serve.  Just like the baby boomers of the 1950s, our children today deserve modern campuses that will bring real value to their neighborhoods for the 50 years to come.”

The proposed bond package would completely rebuild some of Houston’s most historic neighborhood high schools across the city, while others would undergo renovations and renewals.  The proposal also includes new campuses for some of HISD’s prestigious specialty magnet schools, including the nationally renowned High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. The new HSPVA would be built downtown near Houston’s vaunted Theater District on land that HISD already owns at 1300 Capitol.

 

The proposal calls for $1.67 billion to be spent on improvements at 42 schools. This would cover:

 

  • $577 million to completely replace 8 high schools
    • Furr
    • High School for the Performing and Visual Arts
    • Lee
    • Madison
    • Sharpstown
    • Sterling
    • Booker T. Washington
    • Yates

 

 

 

 

  • $354 million to replace the inadequate facilities at 4 high schools
    • Bellaire
    • Lamar
    • Sam Houston
    • Westbury

 

 

 

 

  • $259 million to replace inadequate facilities and renovate 5 high schools
    • Austin
    • Eastwood Academy
    • Milby
    • Waltrip
    • Worthing

 

 

 

 

  • $27 million to build 2 new early college high schools
    • North Early College
    • South Early College

 

 

 

 

  • $61 million to renovate or renew 9 high schools
    • Davis
    • DeBakey
    • Jones
    • Barbara Jordan
    • Kashmere
    • Scarborough
    • Sharpstown International
    • Young Men’s College Prep
    • Young Women’s College Prep

 

 

 

 

  • $121 million to convert 4 elementary schools into K-8 campuses
    • Garden Oaks
    • Pilgrim Academy
    • Wharton Dual Language
    • Mandarin Chinese Language Immersion Magnet School at Gordon

 

 

 

 

  • $74 million to replace Dowling Middle School and expand Grady Middle School

 

  • $126 million to replace 5 elementary schools
    • Askew
    • Condit
    • Kelso
    • MacGregor
    • Parker

 

 

 

 

  • $67 million to renovate and make building additions at K. Smith Elementary, replace inadequate facilities and renovate Tijerina Elementary, and build a new elementary school on the district’s west end to reduce overcrowding

 

The proposed $225 million in district wide projects would cover:

 

  • Technology upgrades at all HISD schools ($100 million)
  • District athletic facility improvements ($42.7 million)
  • Middle school restroom renovations ($35 million)
  • Safety and security improvements ($27 million)
  • Land acquisition ($20 million)

 

Some of the schools recommended for major construction work are among those that had renovations under the 2007 bond program.  In many of those cases, the previously completed work will be incorporated into the new building design, said Leo Bobadilla, HISD’s Chief Operating Officer.

 

School community input included in plan

 

Earlier this spring, HISD hired Parsons — national specialists in the assessment, design, and project management of education facilities — to update the 2007 comprehensive assessment of the HISD’s facilities.  HISD principals were asked to engage their campus communities as they completed detailed surveys about the condition of their schools.  More than 3,300 parents, teachers, and community members representing 95 percent of the district’s schools participated in this feedback process.  Some of the specific facility issues raised by school communities in the surveys will be addressed outside of the recommended bond through HISD’s normal building maintenance program. 

Links to school community survey results for each campus, along with more details about the data that helped formulate the proposal, are posted online at houstonisd.org.

Using this school community input, existing data from 2007, and information about the condition of HISD campuses based on work completed since 2007, Parsons experts personally inspected dozens of schools and interviewed principals and plant operators to develop the list of campuses included in the bond proposal.  They took several factors into account while developing this list:

 

  • Overall building condition
  • Each school’s educational suitability and technology readiness
  • Enrollment projections and capacity
  • Community input

 

Even with the many projects included in the bond proposal, HISD schools still have many additional facility needs that remain unaddressed, according to the report presented to the board.  Those needs will be identified as HISD moves forward with developing a comprehensive long-range capital improvement plan.

 

Property tax implications

 

Because of the district’s strong fiscal management practices, HISD has been able to maintain the lowest property tax rate of the 20-plus school districts in Harris County. In addition, HISD is among the few districts in Texas that offer an optional 20 percent homestead exemption on top of the standard $15,000 exemption that other school districts offer.  This means that a home with a taxable value of $200,000 in another school district that doesn’t offer the optional 20 percent exemption would be taxed at a value of $160,000 in HISD (a 20 percent reduction).

If an election is called, and voters approve the bond package, HISD would likely adopt a property tax rate increase in the future.  This tax rate increase would have no impact on the homesteads of HISD residents age 65 and older, because their tax rates are frozen.

HISD estimates that the tax rate increase would be phased in over a 4-year period, beginning with an estimated 2-cent increase in 2014.  This would result in an additional $29 in taxes for the owner of a home valued at $200,000.  By 2017, the total tax rate increase resulting from the bond’s passage would reach 6.85 cents, raising the average tax bill by $99 a year, or $8.25 per month.

School construction and renovation work approved by HISD voters in 2007 is nearing completion under budget. So far, HISD has opened 16 new or replacement schools under that bond program, 6 more new schools are under construction, and 2 more are in the planning stage.  More than 100 HISD campuses have undergone renovations so far.  Click here for more detailed information about the work completed under the 2007 bond program.