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Posts published in March 2007

AID changes name; Becomes East Aldine Management District

NORTHEAST HOUSTON– Directors of the Aldine Improvement District took the unusual step at their monthly board meeting, of abolishing their name. Instead they voted to adopt the new name of East Aldine Management District.
The change was prompted by the desire to differentiate the Improvement District from other similar entities, according to Clyde Bailey, chairman. AID and AISD, the Airline Improvement District and the Aldine Independent School District, respectively, were often confused with Aldine Improvement District, he said.

In addition, the district wished to further emphasize its unique identity with a place name that would gain in meaning over the years.
The Aldine Improvement District was originally formed by legislation proposed by State Representative Kevin Bailey in 2001, and based on a 1 per cent sales tax collection to be used for community safety and improvements. That year, the name was Aldine Community Improvement District, or ACID for short.
Arlene Nichols, assistant to Bailey, told the Northeast News that “it is nice to see them take control and recognize that it is their district, not a state entity. They have the authority to change it.”
The vote by the directors was 7 for the change, 1 (Gerald Overturff) voting no, and 1 absent (Reyes Garcia).
Prior to the vote, Northeast News pubisher Gilbert Hoffman spoke for keeping the old name. He noted that a poll in the newspaper and on its website indicated 88% in favor of the AID name, and only 12% in favor of the new name. However, he admitted that the sampling was small.
He also pointed out that there really is no place that could be identified as “East Aldine”, and quoted a history passage decrying the loss of Aldine’s individual identity over the years.
In other remarks to the News, Nichols related the difficulty a group has in choosing a name. She recalled a community meeting she attended when the Airline District was trying to reach a consensus on a name. She said that “of 85 people in attendance, they had 85 different names they wanted to use.”
Speaking for Kevin Bailey, she said that “Its wonderful to see them (Aldine) in a position to create signage, logos, and a name that reflects the community.”

NFISD names Jones acting superintendent, upgrades technology at Smiley

By BOBBY HORN JR.
Last week the North Forest ISD Board of Trustees voted to name William Jones as acting superintendent of the district.
Jones, who previously served as assistant superintendent, was moved into the district’s top administrative position after the board fired Dr. James Simpson earlier this month.
Board President Barbara Gaston said that the district is not ready to begin their search for a new superintendent and that the board felt confident in Jones’ ability to lead the district until that time when they are ready to begin the search. Since the board terminated Simpson’s contract he still has the option to appeal the board’s ruling. Gaston said that once the issue of due process is resolved then the board would look at a permanent replacement.
The school district is conducting an investigation into its police department after theft allegations were leveled against then-interim Police Chief Tyrone Walker. Walker is currently on suspension from the district. While the board met behind closed doors to discuss the investigation, they took no action in open session.
In other issues before the board, trustees approved a contract with Dell Computers for $38,024.36. The district is buying 44 Dell computers for the Career & Technology Education Department at Smiley High School.
The board also looked at a contract for $24,939 with HSM Electronics for a protection security and surveillance system at Forest Brook High School. Gaston said that the board needed more information so they chose to postpone their decision on the contact until a future undetermined meeting.
The board recognized Forest Brook High students Ashley Taylor and Deshea Stevens and Smiley student Zsathala Williams. The three will compete at the State UIL Solo and Ensemble Contest on May 26 in Austin.

Outstanding Women in Business honored by NH Greenspoint Chamber

NORTH HOUSTON GREENSPOINT– The Chamber’s luncheon theme this month was ‘Outstanding Women in Business,” and to prove the point, they honored 18 women in various business and leadership roles throughout the North Houston area.
These included the following: Jana Anders, InvesTex C.U.; Sylvia Boling, Y.O.U.T.H.; Jill Boullion, Boullion Graphics; Rosemary Buske, Contact Promotions; Julie Cripe, Omni Bank; Sherran Domescik, Sam Houston Race Park; Nadia Eloufir, Greenspoint Club; Margaret Eyster, Magoo’s PrintShop; Jocklynn Keville, Greater Greenspoint Management District; Susan Hill, Hawes Hill Calderon; Teri Koerth, Airline Improvement District; Phyllis Oustifine, Hawes Hill Calderon; Dana Podsednik, Hydril; Sharon Rister, Amegy Bank; Johnnye Shupe, Shupe Staffing Solutions; Mary Skaff, US Personnel; Kristine Walker, PrimeWay Federal C.U.; Katherine West, Macedonia Outreach & Career Center.
The luncheon honoring the women was held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel (formerly Sofitel) on Beltway 8. Master of Ceremonies was NHGCC president Reggie Gray. Presenting the awards to the women was board chairman Bill Ginder. Each woman received a rose, and a plaque from the Chamber designating the honor.

In other business, Gray announced that the Chamber will have a Business After Hours and Ribbon Cutting on Thursday, March 22nd for Luna’s Mexican Restaurant in the Greenspoint Mall. Chamber members and the public are invited.
On Friday, March 23rd the chamber will host two events. A breakfast at the Wyndham Greenspoint hotel will honor Teachers in the Aldine ISD. The event starts at 7:30 a.m. Call 281-442-8701 for reservations and to sponsor a teacher.
Later that day, the Chamber members will participate in 2007 Casino Night at the Greer & Lowdermilk Conference Center. The event is sponsored by North Houston Bank, and starts at 8 p.m. Call 281-442-8701 for tickets, which are $50 per person.

Jones selected North Forest ISD interim superintendent

By Gilbert Hoffman
Acting at a special called School Board meeting last Monday March 12, Assistant Superintendent William Jones was appointed acting superintendent in place of Dr. James Simpson, who was terminated earlier.
The vote was 6-1, with Trustee Silvia Brooks Williams voting “no.” She said later that she felt the board should have found a candidate with more experience in educational values, not administrative.
Jones has been with the North Forest ISD for over 30 years he said, and worked closely with Simpson. He said that in the near future he would concentrate on helping ready the students for their TAKS tests in April, and work with the TEA conservator Henry Boening to solve the financial problems that exist in the district.
Jones is not new to this position. He was acting superintendent during Simpson’s 2 and 1/2 year term, when he was suspended by the board temporarily.

Also at the meeting, the board was introduced to the new TEA conservator, Henry Boening, who is a retired superintendent from Galvestion ISD. The conservator’s job will be to review all expenditures related to the FEMA and 2001 Bond monies, and see that they are properly accounted for. He is not expected to be involved in academic assessments.
Also during the meeting Monday night, there was extensive questioning of J. Paul Johnson, Assistant Superintendent of Opertions, about financial records and why they were not made available in written form at this meeting.
Several members of the board complained that the administration regularly talked about the finances, but rarely provided the documents to the board to allow them to see the situation.
Johnson said he would see that the documents were presented to the board by next Monday, as requested. However, he pointed out to the North East News that his responsibilities did not officially include the financial matters of the district. These come under the office of the Director of Finances, Lamont Waddell.
The next meeting of the school board was scheduled for Monday night, March 19, at which time William Jones is expected to receive an interim appointment to the end of the school year.

State places conservator over NFISD finances – SUPERINTENDENT FIRED

By Bobby Horn Jr and
Gilbert Hoffman
The North Forest ISD, which is under a state investigation to account for $23 million in FEMA federal funds, fired its superintendent Dr. James Simpson Thursday night during a called meeting of the Board of Trustees.
Board president Barbara Gaston told the North Forest News that the firing was “with good cause”, but that Simpson will be allowed “due process” to appeal. He was terminated without pay or completion of his $160,000 yearly contract. Trustee Charles Taylor was quoted as saying the firing was due to a lack of confidence and lack of communication from Simpson. The board was concerned about the continuation of 8 out of 11 NFISD schools not meeting state standards, and ranked academically unacceptable.
The board is planning to meet again next week, according to Gaston, to name an interim superintendent. At the present time, it is expected that Assistant Superintendent William Jones will temporarily run the district.

A Texas Education Agency representative, Ron Rowell, was present during the board deliberations, but did not participate. He told the NF News that a “conservator” will be placed by TEA in the district offices, with the authority to direct financial spending and investigate previous financial activity. It is expected that the conservator will be Henry Boening, who previously served as superintendent in Galveston and other districts, said Rowell.
According to the Texas Education Agency, North Forest received more than $10 million from the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) to make repairs caused by Tropical Storm Allison in 2001. The TEA said that North Forest has failed to show documentation indicating how another $13 million in federal funds earmarked for Allison repairs were spent.
In late February the board, by a 4-3 vote, agreed to hire an outside auditor Deloitte Financial Advisory Services to go over the accounts and determine what funds have been spent and where.
Last week, Simpson released a statement to the public to address the issue. According to Simpson, the former administration used bond money that was supposed to go toward new school construction for immediate flood repairs, with the understanding that FEMA would reimburse the district for 75% of the costs provided that the district provide documentation.
Simpson said that any inadequate documentation was done prior to his coming to the district in 2004.
Despite coming to the district after the fact, Simpson took responsibility for correcting the situation in a letter that went out to the community three days before he was fired.
“While the problem did not occur under my watch, it is my duty to ensure that the solution will,” Simpson wrote. He added that since coming to the district $10 million of bond funds have been recovered by the district. He also pledged to continue working with the TEA and Deloitte to discover any missing documentation.

Jones appointed interim head

By Gilbert Hoffman
Acting at a special called School Board meeting last Monday March 12, Assistant Superintendent William Jones was appointed acting superintendent in place of Dr. James Simpson, who was terminated earlier. The vote was 6-1, with Trustee Silvia Brooks Williams voting “no.” She said later that she felt the board should have found a candidate with more experience in educational values, not administrative.

Jones has been with the North Forest ISD for over 30
years he said, and worked closely with Simpson. He said that in the near future he would concentrate on helping ready the students for their TAKS tests in April, and work with the TEA conservator Henry Boening to solve the financial problems that exist in the district.
Jones is not new to this position. He was acting superintendent during Simpson’s 2 and 1/2 year term, when he was suspended by the board temporarily.
Also at the meeting, the board was introduced to the new TEA conservator, Henry Boening, who is a retired superintendent from Galvestion ISD. The conservator’s job will be to review all expenditures related to the FEMA and 2001 Bond monies, and see that they are properly accounted for. He is not expected to be involved in academic assessments.
Also during the meeting Monday night, there was extensive questioning of J. Paul Johnson, Assistant Superintendent of Opertions, about financial records and why they were not made available in written form at this meeting. Several members of the board complained that the administration regularly talked about the finances, but rarely provided the documents to the board to allow them to see the situation.
Johnson said he would see that the documents were presented to the board by next Monday, as requested. However, he pointed out to the North Forest News that his responsibilities did not officially include the financial matters of the district. These come under the office of the Director of Finances, Lamont Waddell.
The next meeting of the school board is scheduled for Monday night, March 19, at which time William Jones is expected to receive an interim appointment to the end of the school year.

Initiative Group seeks new solutions

By Gilbert Hoffman
A new concerned citizen’s group, known as the Healthy Schools=Healthy Communities Initiative, held two meetings last week to discuss the problems and crisis in the North Forest ISD. Over a hundred concerned parents and citizens attended each meeting. Thursday night’s meeting was held at the Police Substation on Ley Road, and Saturday’s meeting at Shadydale Elememtary.
Speakers included Sheila Jackson Lee, Senfronia Thompson, TEA’s Ron Rowell, and NFIAD board president Barbara Gaston.

Also speaking were Lester Howard, Jackie Mayhorn, Robin German Curtis, and Albert Coleman who are founders of the group.
Much of the session was informational, to the extent possible, since the TEA conservator has not started investigating the finances of the district.
Many speakers emphasized the importance of bringing the standards of the district up, so that non-acceptable schools can have improved ratings, and the students who graduate can have a first class education, as most adults in the room agreed the district provided at one time.
The initiative is actually a partnership between Northeast Beyond 2000, Superneighborhoods 47, 48, 49/50 and other educational service providers.
The Initiative Group has independently hired an education consultant, Sharon Jacobson, whose experience includes directing the non-profit school reform group Project GRAD. She will be asked to devise a strategic intervention plan that can be implemented by the group, with the cooperation of the School Board, to bring academic improvements in the next year or two.
The meeting ended with vows from the speakers and the audience that they will work together to bring about “ACE–A Community of Excellence.”
The next meeting of this group is scheduled for April 14th, according to Ms. Curtis.

Acorn Housing Ribbon Cutting March 26

NORTH FOREST– Acorn Housing Corporation will hold a ribbon cutting on Monday, March 26 at 10:00 am at their development site at 9621 Mesa Drive.
Expected to attend are Mayor Bill White and other local government officials, including councilmen and legislators.
Acorn is developing 89 new homes at Acorn Glenn Subdivision, next to the XXX school. These 3 and 4 bedroom homes have 2 or 2-1/2 baths, 1300 to 1700 square feet, with a 2 car garage on a 5000 sq. ft. lot.
Homes are priced from $101,000 to $114,000 and eligible buyers will receive assistance from the City of Houston’s Downpayment Assistance Program, a grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank and other grant funds up to $19,000. Downpayments can be as low as $1000 in this program, with free homebuyer counseling a below market interest rate loans. The public is invited to the ribbon cutting, and to inspect the model homes that will be open. More information is at 713-635-7264.

Aldine ID plans signage, new name for District

NORTHEAST– The board of directors of the Aldine Improvement District held a retreat in January to plan projects for the coming year, and to review progress since the formation of the district in 2001. These plans were presented to the public at the board meeting in February, and some were approved, others tabled.
One of the most controversial was the signage program. It faced two obstacles: a new name for the district has not been decided upon, and Chairman Clyde Bailey expressed strong feelings that a traditional blue design did not represent colors of his high school, MacArthur, properly. The board did not agree with this feeling, however, and tabled the matter for further study. The proposed new name is East Aldine Management District, but this too was tabled for lack of a consensus, and for further study as to its appropriateness.

The board heard a report on the finances of the district, and were told that tax collections are running almost 25% above expectations. Revenues for 2006 were over $2 million, and for 2007 look to be over $2.5 million. Fund balances are stronger that budgeted.
Some major expenditures budgeted for this fiscal year include: Public Safety $361,655; Clean up $10,000; Economic Development $225,000; Administration $90,100.
Other major expenses listed were: Debt service, $270,000; Community Development $140,000; Water & Sewer $850,000.
A report from the Grants Committee was approved, with $29,000 to the YMCA as a matching grant with Aldine ISD, to fund after school and summer programs; and $2400 was approved for AISD bus drivers, an incentive program to reward good drivers. Other grant requests were tabled.

Boys Basketball Finals – Kingwood falls to Duncanville 60-46 in final championship game

By Bobby Horn, Jr.
AUSTIN – Following a Friday afternoon when the basketball seemed to find the net with no trouble, the Kingwood Mustangs could not repeat their offensive barrage Saturday night, losing to the Duncanville Panthers in the 5A State Finals 60-46.
In a classic battle of the top two ranked teams in state Duncanville (39-0) showed why they were on top, giving Kingwood (39-3) all they could handle.
The first quarter saw both teams trade shots, with Kingwood taking their biggest lead at the 2:54 mark when they were ahead 10-7. By the eight-minute mark the Panthers led by one point and they never looked back.

Duncanville, who is ranked seventh in the country according to USA Today, opened the second quarter with a 25-12 lead. The Mustangs faced their largest halftime deficit of the postseason when they went into the locker room trailing 32-20. The Mustangs would get no help in the second half. Stopped by the Panthers’ overwhelming defense, Kingwood scored just two points in the third quarter, while committing 13 turnovers. Mike Singletary led the Mustangs with 15 points.
Despite the loss, Kingwood did make history by becoming the first team to appear in three straight 5A state title games. The loss also ends a three-year run for the Mustangs in which they compiled a 110-13 record.
FRIDAY’S GAME – Bombs Away was the motto of the Kingwood Mustangs Friday afternoon as they connected with 10 3-pointers in the first half on their way to a 64-55 win over San Antonio Madison and an appearance in Saturday night’s state finals.
This is the third straight year that Kingwood has made it to the state finals.
The Mustangs’ first 15 shot attempts were 3-pointers, and they hit 10 of them to build a 30-9 lead at the 5:53 mark in the second quarter. Madison tried to focus on Kingwood’s Mike Singletary early, opening up shots for teammates Trumaine Johnson who scored 16 points and Nick James, nine points, who were instrumental in the Mustangs’ early charge building up a 24-8 lead early. Both were perfect on three attempts each from outside the arc in the first quarter to help Kingwood take a considerable lead. Johnson was 4-of-6 on 3-point shooting for the game, James was 3-of-4 and the Mustangs were 11-for-22 (50 percent) overall.
Kingwood saw their lead begin to diminish in the second quarter when Madison went on a 15-2 run. The Mustangs quickly responded with four straight points to take a 32-24 halftime lead. As Madison began to turn their attention to other players, Singletary (17 points on the day) shined in the fourth quarter, helping the Mustangs build up a 20-point lead with four and half minutes remaining. This proved too much for Madison whose last minute surge was stopped by the clock.