Tag Archives: business operations

National Wildlife Federation grant deadlines approaching

The National Wildlife Federation is offering two grant opportunities for HISD schools. Applications are due Monday, June 15.

One grant focuses on secondary schools interested in developing nature-based solutions to community stormwater runoff or flooding. The second is open to all grade levels and emphases energy literacy.

Energy and Sustainability Quality Assurance Analyst Stephanie Walker said schools should apply despite the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Austin HS to open in January 2021 due to COVID-19

The new Austin High School is now scheduled to open in January 2021 — a delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The school was originally scheduled to open in August 2020. HISD Construction Services Officer Derrick Sanders said the new timeline was due to a three-month delay in the school’s furniture shipment and manpower shortages caused by mandated social distancing requirements resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Austin will remain at its current temporary learning center located across South Lockwood Drive until the new facility opens.

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HISD launches new programs to build on success of community food distribution

As the school year wraps up, the Houston Independent School District is revving up its nutrition outreach efforts with the launch of curbside summer meals for students and the Fresh Bus produce delivery program.

The programs come on the heels of the district’s successful community food distribution initiative, which ran for nine weeks following HISD’s closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coordinated by HISD in partnership with the Houston Food Bank, the program, provided nearly 7 million pounds of food to more than 160,000 families during that time.

“When everything around us was shutting down due to the pandemic, it became essential for us to be there for our students and their families,” HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan said. “I’m proud of the hard work and dedication that went into this effort. Remarkably, we were able to impact so many families.”

The district is aiming to build upon that success with the launch if it’s annual and state-mandated summer meals program, which begins June 1. Families will be able to pick up packaged student meals twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays at one of 71 designated schools across the district. Families will receive several days’ worth of food per child.

HISD Meal Programs At a Glance
Summer Meals HISD Curbside Summer Meals
  • Begins June 1
  • Pick up on Mondays and Thursdays at 71 schools
  • Meals are free to ages 1-18
  • Proof of enrollment or birth certificate required for children not in the vehicle
  • Participating schools available at HoustonISD.org/SummerMeals
Fresh Bus Produce Delivery
  • Program runs through July
  • Daily delivery to rotating community locations
  • Produce is free for families at 68 designated schools
  • Participating schools and rotating delivery sites available at HoustonISD.org/FreshBus
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Customer Care continues to take calls during district closure

Business Operations Customer Care Team Leader Johnetta Branch has a new three-step routine when she arrives at her office — put on her face mask, sanitize her hands, and have her temperature checked.

The district may be closed, she said, but there are still employee and parent questions to be answered, payrolls to be processed, maintenance requests to be filed, purchases to track, and fire and burglar alarms to monitor.

“Fifty-six of us used to come in every day, but many are parents and with schools and daycares closed, they aren’t able to come in,” Branch said. “So now it’s five people working at one time to accomplish the same tasks. I’m here to do whatever needs to be done.”

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Lamar HS construction nears completion

Construction at Lamar High School is continuing, as allowable under the public health guidelines, with renovations to the original building now 80 percent complete.

The renovation work, designed to preserve the building’s historically significant architecture, included the construction of a new child care wing, welcome center, and updated ROTC and Career and Technical Education classrooms.

The athletic fields — including football, baseball, softball, soccer practice fields — and tennis courts also are underway.

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Scarborough ES construction 94 percent complete

Construction at the new Scarborough Elementary School is steadily progressing, despite the district being closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Work on the campus has continued, as allowable under the public health guidelines, with a reduction of the workforce to adhere to social distancing requirements.

The $23 million project is tracking at 94 percent completion, with site work, paving, underground utilities, structural steel, roofing, interior wall systems, and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing installation complete. Exterior wall systems and interior finishes are ongoing.

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Facility tour showcases how Nutrition Services is mobilizing to safely feed families

When Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan arrived at the HISD Hexser T. Holliday Food Service Center, she was eager to tour facility operations, but precautions had to be taken first.

Upon entering the facility, her temperature was taken just footsteps inside the door — a safety precaution and clear sign of the times as the world endures the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In the weeks since our district closed, we’ve worked hard to meet the needs of our community,” Lathan said. “This visit is a great opportunity to get an up-close look at how the entire food distribution process begins.”

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HISD Community Partnerships, HISD Police Department play key roles in food distribution

Feeding more than 10,000 families five days a week during a pandemic is no easy task. It’s an effort that requires the collaboration of multiple departments across the district to bring it all together.

In just over a month, HISD — working together with the Houston Food Bank — has distributed 2 million pounds of food to more than 60,000 families. That range spans from March 14 through April 18.

“I appreciate the spotlight we’ve received, but it’s not just us,” HISD Nutrition Services Officer Betti Wiggins said, referencing the child nutrition department she leads. “We couldn’t have accomplished this without the help of Community Partnerships and HISD Police.”

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Construction on 2012 Bond schools continues despite districtwide closure

With most of the country shut down in an attempt to flatten the COVID-19 curve, HISD’s Construction Services — designated an essential service — is continuing to work on school construction across the district.

HISD Construction General Manager Andreas Peeples said construction is expected to continue as allowable under public health guidelines but noted that required public health measures are affecting normal operations.

“We must comply with requirements that individuals must remain at least six feet from any other person,” Peeples said. “This is important, but it does result in inefficiencies in mobilizing labor and materials and a general reduction in labor forces.”

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Wiggins to participate in COVID-19 K-12 webinar

HISD Nutrition Services Officer Betti Wiggins will share her experiences regarding emergency community feeding during a webinar sponsored by food service publications.

Wiggins will participate in a panel discussion to explore how school districts are utilizing different methods to provide nutritious meals through the COVID-19 pandemic. The “K-12 Child Nutrition: Serving students and families during COVID-19” webinar will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday, April 21.

The webinar is sponsored by the editorial teams of Nation’s Restaurant News, Restaurant Hospitality, and Food Management magazines. She will be joined by Minneapolis Public Schools Director of Culinary and Wellness Services Bertrand Weber and Londonderry School District Director of Dining Services Amanda Venezia.

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