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Posts published in September 2010

Aldine superintendent selected as panelist for NBC’s Education Nation Summit

Aldine ISD Superintendent Dr. Wanda Bamberg has been selected as a panelist as part of NBC News’ Education Nation Summit, set for Rockefeller Center in New York, Sept. 27-28.
Dr. Bamberg will be part of the panel, “Shrinking the Achievement Gap: Is education the civil rights issue of our time?” Joining her on the panel will be Roland Fryer, a professor at Harvard and CEO of EdLabs, Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, Michael Lomax, president and CEO of the United Negro College Fund, Janet Murguia, president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza and Michael Nutter, mayor of Philadelphia.
NBC News’ Education Nation Summit is the centerpiece of a weeklong “Education Nation” initiative that will convene the foremost policymakers, elected officials, thought leaders, educators, members of the business community and engaged citizens in a national discussion about the challenges, potential solutions and innovations spanning today’s education landscape.

Law EXPO set for Sept. 25

The Houston Intercontinental Chamber of Commerce and the Greenspoint Mall will host a Law EXPO at the mall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sept. 25. The Opening Ceremony will be at 12 p.m.
Various public safety agencies will be represented.
Among those expected to attend will be the Houston Police Department, Harris County Sheriff’s Office, the FBI, ESD #1 and Memorial Hermann Hospital’s Life Flight Air Ambulance, Bring your family and questions.
The Houston Police Department’s Mounted Patrol, which is based in Northeast Houston, is also expected to have some of their horses on display.
Each department will have displays were they will show off the equipment they use to protect the community. Photo opportunities with helicopters, horses, boats and more will be available.
Displays will be set up outside near the food court entrance as well as inside the mall.
In past years there have also been free child fingerprinting, child seat inspections and live entertainment.
For more information call the chamber at 281-260-3163.

Aldine ISD volunteers ‘Reach out to Dropouts’

More than 500 volunteers in Aldine ISD hit the streets bright and early on Saturday, Sept. 11, to encourage high school students to return to school during the annual Reach Out to Dropouts Walk Day Event.
The effort attracted 543 volunteers from across de district. Volunteers gathered at six Aldine ISD schools- Aldine Senior High, Carver High School, Eisenhower Senior High, Hall Center for Education, MacArthur Senior High School and Nimitz Senior High School- for training prior to visiting students to encourage those who have left high school to return.

Volunteers made 260 student/parent contacts, and left door hangers at another 219 homes with information on how students can go about re-enrolling. On the day of the walk, 30 students began the re-enrollment process, while another 29 return to school the day of the walk and 36 other students made commitment to return to school.
Aldine ISD board members, along with Superintendent Dr. Wanda Bamberg, cabinet members, AISD principals, teachers and community volunteers gave of their time on Sept. 11 to participate in the annual Reach Out to Dropouts Walk Day event.

Northline Light Rail to have delays, but new Super-Walmart set to open

By GILBERT HOFFMAN
Northeast News
Residents of the Northside, who have anxiously awaited the arrival of the METRO light rail line, and the completion of the renovated Northline Mall, had mixed news this week.
Because of a federal probe into procurement practices that now seem to have ignored guidelines, the FTA (Federal Transit Administration) has told Houston and METRO they must readvertise bids for light rail cars, to insure that the “Buy America” provisions of the contract are followed.
Until this re-procurement is accomplished, the federal government will withhold $64 million in grant funding for replacement rail cars for the existing downtown Red Line, and $50 million in engineering for the new lines, according to a letter from FTA administrator Peter Rogoff. However, in the same letter he promises $150 million in funds for the completion of the North and Southeast Corridor lines will be available if the re-procurement proceeds in an approved manner.

The dispute arose because the former CEO of METRO, Frank Wilson, executed a contract with a Spanish firm to build the new rail cars. Most of the rail cars were to be built in the U.S. in a new plant, but two prototype cars were to be built in Spain, due to scheduling. Wilson insisted he had approval from FTA for this method, but a recent audit of the contracts did not substantiate this conclusion.
As a result, METRO’s new CEO, George Grenias, announced that there will be a delay in operating the North and Southeast lines, from the original date of 2012 to a new date of 2014.

Eventually, METRO hopes to receive $900 million in federal grants to cover the cost of the four lines now in planning. Some of this money is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, meant to put workers immediately into jobs.
Walmart at Northline
Construction work on the new Super-Walmart adjacent to the Northline Commons is continuing, with an opening date set for late October, now tentively Oct. 27.
Walmart is taking job applications, and plans to hire about 300 employees. Anyone can apply for these jobs onsite, at Northline Commons, 4400 A North Freeway, Suite 100.

SEPTIEMBRE es el mes de la Hispanidad

El mes de la herencia Hispana comienza en Septiembre 15 porque este dia marca el aniversario de Independencia de cinco paises Hispanos que son Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras y Nicaragua. Además México también obtuvo su independencia el 16 de Septiembre y Chile el 18 de Septiembre.
El mes de la Hispanidad es básicamente una celebración y reconocimiento a la rica y abundante influencia política, económica, social y cultural del pueblo hispano en todo el territorio de los Estados Unidos.
Y para reconocer esta herencia y creciente impacto en el país, El Congreso de los Estados Unidos decretó del 15 de Septiembre al 15 Octubre como mes de la Hispanidad, esto también porque varios paises hispanos celebran su independencia en el mes de Septiembre.
Todos los hispanos radicando en este país y a lo largo de todo el territorio estadounidense llevan acabo ceremonias y actividades de acuerdo a la ocasión.

Aldine ISD opens new intermediate, middle schools

Aldine ISD opened two new schools when the 2010-2011 school year began on August 23. Rayford Road Intermediate School is the district’s 11th intermediate school and is located at 21919 Rayford Road. Robert Graham, formerly the principal at Carter Academy, is serving as the school’s first principal. The campus has a projected enrollment of 700 students.
Vernon and Kathy Lewis Middle School is the district’s 10th middle school and is located at 21255 West Hardy Road. Cassandra Cosby, formerly the principal at Oleson Elementary School, is the school’s first principal and the school has a projected enrollment of 750 students.
Lewis Middle School is named after Vernon and Kathy Lewis, two long-time educators who served Aldine ISD for close to 80years.

Vernon began his career in Aldine ISD as a teacher at Aldin High School in 1969 and over the next 37 years, he served as an assistant principal at Eisenhower High School, principal at Teague Middle School and Aldine High School, executive director of secondary schools, the Nimitz area superintendent and finally as an assistant superintendent of administration. He retired in December of 2006.
Kathy also began her career in Aldine ISD in 1969 and over the next 38 years she served as a teacher at MacArthur High School and Nimitz High School, and as a special education counselor and regular education counselor at Teague Middle School from 1983 until her retirement in 2007.
The Aldine ISD Board of Education unanimously voted to name the district’s 10th middle school in honor of the couple at the December 2009 Board meeting.
It was an honor that caught Vernon and Kathy totally off guard.
“This was such a surprise for both of us to be honored like this,” Vernon said. “It’s hard to express our gratitude and how overwhelmed we are with this honor. We’re just two ordinary people who were commited to the children of Aldine ISD.”

New Leadership at KIPP Polaris

HOUSTON– The northeast KIPP Charter School for boys, known as the Polaris Charter school, continues to grow and offer a highly successful academic program to boys in the 5th to 8th grade that are interested in continuing on to college.
The Polaris boys school is a companion to the other two KIPP schools at the Mesa Road campus, the Voyager for girls in the 5th and 6th grades, and the Legacy for boys and girls. There currently are openings available at these schools, for interested students.
The Polaris school has a new School Leader to head the program in the Northeast. Bill Sorrells started with KIPP about 4 weeks ago, and is looking forward to the challenge, he says. He replaces the popular Shawn Hardnett, who helped start the Polaris school in the northeast area four years ago.

Sorrells comes to KIPP from the Houston ISD, where he was principal at Albert Thomas Middle School since 2005. Previous to that, he held administrative positions with Fort Bend Hightower High School, and several schools in his home state of Tennessee. Albert Thomas was known as a troubled and low performing school when he started there, and in the eight years he spent working as associate principal and principal, he was able to solve the problems and move the school out of the low performing category.
Sorrells has been a football coach as well as a principal. He is also trained as an art teacher, and his office is adorned with examples of his work in mixed media, pastels and watercolors.
Sorrells recounts that one of his most famous students, while teaching in Chattanooga was the nationally famous performer Usher. He said that they still keep in touch and see each other occasionally.
KIPP Polaris now has about 330 students, in grades 5 through 8. Sorrells says it still has a few openings for the fall term. There is no tuition charged by the school, but a commitment from the family to long hours and hard work is required by the student and the parents.
KIPP has had a successful academic and precollege program at all of its campuses. It was started in Houston by the educator Michael Feinberg, and is now known nationwide. Oprah Winfrey had called it “A revolutionary new school system.” The Gates Foundation has contributed millions to its growth and success.
KIPP approaches education with the following techniques: it has a disciplined learning environment, longer school days from 7:15 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., teachers are available by cell phone for afterschool homework help, it has a mandatory summer school session, it trains “Boys-to-Men,” and it has field trips around the country.
In additon its extra curricular activities include music, arts, and athletics. Sorrells says that the Polaris school will have football, soccer, track, and strength and conditioning classes. Following the priority of the school, athletics observe the “No Pass No Play” rules, requiring student athletes to pass their academics first.
Music activities will include band and choir, and new instruments will be available this year for band. Other activities will include a chess club and a debate group.
Sorrells sees himself as a strict disciplinarian, but at the same time feels it is important to build relationships with the kids, the parents, and the staff. He doesn’t plan on any big changes to Polaris, only “tweaks” to what Hardnett had accomplished. He notes that it is important to set a good example for the students, that they learn a lot by following good role models. He said that he will increase the rigor of the school.
Sorrels is a resident of Katy, and his wife is employed by Katy ISD in student safety. They have five grown children, several involved in education like the parents.
Sorrells is excited about the opportunities that the KIPP Polaris program offers, and plans to improve the program and shepherd the growth. His office has plans for the expansion of the northeast campus. KIPP has purchased the shopping center where they now are housed, plus about 60 acres of land adjacent where they plan to build more buildings and athletic fields.
With enthusiasm, Bill Sorrells smiles and says “I love challenges – otherwise I would be bored.” No doubt that applies to students at KIPP as well.


Redevelopment coming to Airline Drive

Airline Drive between Aldine Bender and West Road is getting a facelift.
Designs are being finalized on the $6 million project, which includes landscaping, street repairs, traffic signals and public art.
“These improvements are needed and will promote future development in the corridor,” said Executive Director of the Greenspoint Redevelopment Authority Sally Bradford. “We are looking forward to finalizing the designs and moving forward with this exciting project.”
Greenspoint’s Airline corridor is a bustling community brimming with businesses, schools and pedestrians. Some of the changes will make the pedestrian-heavy street safer to navigate. Designers are looking at ways to use landscaping to create crosswalks across the busy streets.
Construction will start in February 2011, and it should take about one year to complete.

Aldine tax vote defeated 682 “NO” VOTES, 439 “YES”

By GILBERT HOFFMAN
Northeast News
A very small turnout last Tuesday, Aug. 31, determined the school budget and tax rate in the Aldine ISD for the next school year.
Slightly more than 1,100 voters cast their ballots in the District’s tax ratification election, and the majority of the voters said “NO” to raising property taxes by 13 cents per $100 valuation of their real estate. This increase, which was approximately 10 per cent, would have increased the yearly income of the District from state and local sources by about $33.8 million. $15.3 million of that would have been from the state, due to reimbursement formulae, according to authorities.
AISD Superintendent Wanda Bamberg told the Northeast News that she was “disappointed in the vote. We wouldn’t have asked for the increase if it wasn’t necessary.”

Bamberg indicated that no additional cuts will be made in the budget for 2010-2011 because they have already cut $20 million from the budget last year, in the areas of magnet programs, after school activities, class sizes, and bus replacements. She indicated that the district will monitor spending this year, with a tight rein on spending.
The final tally was 682 “no” votes, and 439 in the “yes” category in the elction to get voter approval to raise the Maintenance and Operations (M&O) portion of the tax rate. The district’s Board of Trustees in June adopted the higher rate to increase the district’s revenues, and state law requires a tax ratification election to obtain voter approval.
Aldine was the recipient the last four years of national recognition by the Broad Prize, for outstanding education of a large urban district. Three years, 2004, 2005, and 2008 they were runners up, and received $250,000 for scholarships. Last year they were the top winner, and received $1 million for scholarships for seniors to continue college.
Bamberg said that property valuation will be down 3 to 5 percent this year, meaning less revenue from local taxes. The district will be watching closely what funding is available next year from the state legislature, and the federal government, as well as what additional cuts to make in 2011-2012 to keep the district budget solvent.