Press "Enter" to skip to content

Posts published in August 2015

Aldine ISD Trustees call for $798m bond election on Nov. 3

During the August 18th meeting, the Aldine ISD Board of Trustees unanimously passed an order to hold an election on Tuesday, November 3, to seek voter authorization for the sale of schoolhouse bonds.

The amount of the bond proposal is $798,000,000 and includes the construction of new schools, renovations, enhancements and other projects to meet the growth needs of the school district over the next five years.

The district is experiencing growth at the Pre-K-8 levels. The district has discussed reconfiguration changes at those levels. The reconfiguration changes would be addressed in the bond by converting intermediate schools into Pre-K schools, converting elementary schools to grades 1-5 and converting middle schools to grades 6-8. The reconfiguration changes will reduce the number of transitions between grade levels.

In the fall of 2014, the district hired Jacobs Engineering to conduct a facilities and technological assessment of every school and support facility in the district. The district also worked with DeJONG-RICHTER, LLC, an educational facilities planning firm, which assisted in the assessment process.

In February of 2015, the district formed a steering committee of parents and community members to receive input concerning district growth, facilities and technology needs. The steering committee attended 6 meetings to study data and provide input concerning Aldine’s future.

In addition, two community dialogues were held to receive input from district stakeholders. A district executive team composed of administrators and steering committee chairs studied possible options.

The steering committee used information from the following sources:

Facility needs assessment conducted by Jacobs Engineering

Demographic study conducted by Population and Survey Analysts (PASA)

Educational planning input from DeJONG-RICHTER

At the July 20 Board study session, steering committee chairs Carleen Kerr and Dr. Alton Smith and consultants David Sturtz (DeJONG-RICHTER) and Paul Mills (Jacob’s Engineering) made a presentation to the Board of Trustees detailing the district’s facilities and technology needs to address growth over the next 15 years.

“A population study conducted by Population and Survey Analysts (PASA) projects that Aldine will continue to grow by 3% (2,000 students per year) for the next five years, which will increase student enrollment by approximately 10,000. Projected enrollment for 2020 will be close to 80,000. Over the last five months, we have focused on specific options to deal with our growth. Those options include new campuses, reconfigured grade levels to maximize current capacity, improvements and upgrades for various facilities and programs including career and technical education and athletics. There are also plans for each campus to address numerous maintenance and facility needs, such as AC/heating, and plumbing, restroom, electrical and flooring repairs and replacements.”

The committee found that to address the district’s growth, it would need to build three new elementary schools, two to replace Francis and Johnson elementary schools, one new elementary school, a new Career and Technical Education high school and an East Aldine Early College high school.

Additionally, the bond referendum would call for major renovations at some campuses including Carver High School, Aldine High School, Anderson Academy and MacArthur High School.

The referendum would also provide technology upgrades throughout the district and the installation of WiFi at all Aldine campuses to improve Internet access.

The bond referendum would also address safety and security with security camera additions and upgrades at all facilities, the installation of GPS on all buses, the installation of automated door lock systems and additional fencing.

Other improvements include the renovation of Smith Stadium, the renovation of middle school auditoriums, tennis court and swimming pool upgrades, the construction of a north side transportation facility, parking lot expansions, and land purchases.

If voters approve the bond proposal, the district will sell bonds as needed for the construction of new schools, renovations, purchases, replacements and improvements that are outlined in the proposal.

A series of community informational meetings will be held throughout the district (the district will provide dates, locations, and times once meetings are confirmed).

The district will post information on its website and at each campus with details about all the work proposed in the referendum.

Early voting will take place Oct. 19-Oct. 30 at any polling location in Harris County from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.

On Tuesday, Nov. 3, polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. (once we get the polling locations from Harris County, we will list locations).

A bond referendum should have a minimal impact on taxpayers especially if voters in Texas approve Proposition 1 in the November election. Proposition 1 changes the homestead exemption amount for school property taxes from $15,000 to $25,000, which means a house valued at $100,000 in Aldine would be taxed at $75,000 in the future.

In May of 2007, Aldine voters overwhelmingly approved a $365 million bond proposal for the construction of 12 new schools. The referendum passed by a 71% margin.

Chamber hears Superintendents speak on the “State of the School Districts”

NORTH HOUSTON – The Houston ICC Chamber held their monthly luncheon last Thursday, and a full room almost 100 members and guests heard reports from administrators on the “State of the School Districts,” namely Aldine, Klein, and Spring.

This year a report was also given by the new president of Lone Star College-North Harris, on plans for this college in our area.

The presentation started with a detailed report from Chamber president Reggie Gray, on opportunities that the Chamber has developed for international contacts and business for members.

This includes contacts and/or offices in Costa Rica, Malta, and Mexico, and recent contacts with El Salvador and Turkey and Russia. Many of these opportunties have arisen through members, namely Crown Management, and the Schneider Group.

Gray also said that the chamber has extended its reach into the Galleria area, having established an office at 5444 Westheimer. He said that HICC was now truly a “global chamber” and a leader in economic development. This is partially because he has discovered that everyone wants to be in Houston, he said.

Lone Star College-NH

Dr. Gerald Napoles, the newly appointed president of Lone Star College-North Harris, spoke about his academic background that brought him to Houston, and the plans for new programs and new buildings in the North Harris service area.

Napoles was born in the Phillipines, but raised in Dallas. His parents came to the U.S. for a “better life-and better opportunities.” He started his education at a community college, and later taught in Kentucky and Tennesee, he said.

Klein ISD

Dr. Jim Cain and his board chair, Bill Pilkington, spoke on his districts efforts to keep up with growth.

Cain is in his 47th year in public education, and his 11th year as superintendent at Klein ISD.

This year the Klein district will have 50,500 students, and will need to build a 5th high school. In May 2015 the public passed a $500 million bond issue that will help to meet the growth needs. Student population is projected to grow to 70,000 eventually.

He spoke on the Senate Bill 149, end of course exams, and the fact that a committee can now consider graduating a student that did not pass all tests. He said this was a good legislative bill.

Spring ISD

Spring has a new superintendent, Dr. Rodney Watkins, stepping in to a troubled district.

He referred to a new initiative, “Every Child 2020” a student centered plan to transform and improve the district.

It focuses on the child, and makes sure the district provides all the resources and counseling to help the student achieve his best.

He said that other initiatives include staff pay raises, free lunches for all students through junior high, and other new academic programs.

While his focus is on “listening” to the community, he also emphasized human resources, community engagement, and new bus routes as signs of change.

Watkins says he emphasizes five key imperatives:

– Reach every student

– Excellence in every school

– High performance from every employee

– Opportunities & Choice for every family

– Engaged Stakeholders in every community

Spring ISD now has 37,000 students, very diverse, speaking up to 40 languages at home. He expects this diversity to be a strength for individuals and the district in the future.

Aldine ISD

Dr. Wanda Bamberg, superintendent of Aldine ISD, reminded the audience that the district was 80 years old this year.

She said that they had hired a planning firm, Jacobs Engineering, and related consultants, to study the demographics of the district and growth patterns, and in consultation with the public, and administration devise a 5 YR/15 YR strategic plan to meet their needs.

As a result of this study, a proposal to have a bond referendum in the amount of $800 to build new schools and renovate and update existing buildings will be presented to the school board on Tuesday night, Aug. 18th for their consideration.

Bamberg said that some of the recommendations in this study include a new High School, the sixth for the district, a new CTE center (Career Training Education), and a new Second Early College, in the Aldine area.

Currently the district is serving 70,000 students and this is expected to grow to 80,000 in the next 5 years.

She pointed out that in this November’s election, one of the ballot issues will be a chance to increase the Homestead exemption from $10,000 to $25,000, therefore holding the line on many homeowner’s taxes bills, if approved.

A question and answer session followed these presentations. Bamberg and all the superintendents were asked about the apparent teacher shortage, and how they were dealing with it.

Bamberg said that data from Region IV indicated that statewide, there was a shortage of 25,000 teachers, and in the Houston area 10,000. Many of these were in Math, Science, and English.

She indicated that her district was using their resources to attract teachers around the nation, and to sign up recent graduates.

Dr. Cain said that in addition, his district had a need for teachers for Special Ed, and foreign languages.

METRO upgrades Route 59 Service – System-Wide changes start August 16 – Ride FREE all week

New service will be 7 days a week, 14 hours daily, every 60 minutes

After many meetings with METRO, representatives of the East Aldine District, and State Representative Armando Walle, which have extended over the last year, a new bus schedule for Route 59 has been announced and will start this Sunday, August 16, along with METRO’s New Bus Network over the whole city.

METRO’s NEW BUS NETWORK will include changes in the #59 Route. It will run 7 days a week, from 5 a.m. until after 7 p.m. The route has been extended to connect with the #56 route on Airline, and then continue to Veterans Memorial and end at the North Shepherd Park & Ride, where passengers will be able to transfer to 9 different routes that go to all parts of the city and county. Starting at the Social Security office on Aldine Mail Route, the westbound bus will have stops at Aldine Community Health Center, MacArthur High School, High Meadows library, the new East Aldine Town Center (when built) including Lone Star College and Neighborhood Centers, Airline flea markets, Aldine High School, Aldine Library, Walmart on West Road, Stuebner Airline Park, and the North Shepherd Park & Ride. Buses will run every 60 minutes, and fares are $1.25 per person, with student and senior discounts available.

In the meetings with METRO, and from surveys taken of riders, two conditions for a successful bus route were emphasized, and missing. These were 7 days a week service, and connections to shopping on Airline and the North Freeway. The new route as announced not only will achieve these goals, but in addition will have improved connections at the North Shepherd Park & Ride to most all of the routes into the rest of the city. Riders will now be able to reach downtown Houston, and the airport through the connections at the transit center.

The new network is the most comprehensive redesign of Houston’s bus system in more than a generation. To christen it, rides on all Metro local buses and trains will be free from August 16-22.

The new system relies more on buses running frequently along core routes. The current system involves many buses that cross downtown and take circuitous paths; the new network enables riders to criss-cross the Houston area along heavily traveled streets.

State Representative Armando Walle, who worked during the recent Legislative Session with METRO staff to achieve the changes, issued a statement from his office, “Indeed, its very exciting news as many in the community will benefit greatly with the new schedule.”

Over the whole route, Metro expects some routes will take longer than before, and expects to make adjustments as necessary, according to officials.

Metro will also introduce some new enhancements to service, including a new smart phone app that will allow you to indicate your location on your phone, and get an answer by text message as to when the next bus will come to your stop.

Aldine ISD board to address growth issues

Board meets Aug. 11, 18 to consider Bond Referendum

Aldine ISD is growing at a rapid rate and the time has come to address growth issues. As the district celebrates its 80th anniversary, many older schools are in need of repair and upgrades.

During the July 21 Board meeting, Aldine ISD Trustees authorized the Aldine ISD administration to prepare for a special called meeting for a possible bond referendum.

The district hired Jacobs Engineering in the fall of 2014 to undertake a facilities and technological assessment of every school and support facility in the district. The district has also worked with DeJONG-RICHTER, LLC, an educational facilities planning firm, which assisted in the process.

“A population study conducted by Population and Survey Analysts (PASA) projects that Aldine ISD will continue to grow by 3% (2,000 students per year) for the next five years,” said Aldine ISD Superintendent Dr. Wanda Bamberg. “Over the last five months, we have focused on specific options to deal with our growth.”

In February of 2015, the district formed a steering committee of parents and community members to receive their input concerning the district’s growth, facilities and technological needs. Input was also received from the district’s executive team, made up of cabinet members, administrators, and steering committee chairs. The steering committee attended 6 meetings to study data and provide input about Aldine’s future. The Executive Team met three times to address growth and to plan for Aldine’s future.

During the process, two community dialogues were held to receive input from district stakeholders. Aldine residents who attended the community dialogues submitted more than 1,400 surveys. The steering committee studied data from the community dialogues and the input from the executive team and created a facilities master plan to address growth, programming and facility repairs.

The steering committee used information from the following sources:

Facility needs assessment conducted by Jacobs Engineering

Demographics study conducted by PASA

Educational planning input from DeJONG-RICHTER

The steering committee presented the following options to the Board to address AISD’s growth. Those options include:

Construction of 12 new schools (one high school, one ninth-grade school, a new Early College High School, new Pre-K-K centers, one new elementary school, three middle schools, and the rebuilding of Francis Elementary and Johnson Elementary)

Reconfiguration of grade levels:

From PK Centers to PK-K centers

From 1-4 campuses to 1-5 campuses

From 5-6 campuses to 6-8 campuses

Ninth grade and high school campuses will not be changed.

Purchase of land

Construction of a Career and Technical Education high school

Renovations of Carver High School and Anderson Academy

Converting intermediate schools to elementary schools and Pre-K-K centers.

At a special called meeting on August 11, the Board will study the information to consider the bond referendum, including the amount in the bond and the timeline for the referendum. A bond referendum should have minimal impact on taxpayers especially if voters in Texas approve Proposition 1 in November. Proposition 1 changes the homestead exemption amount for school property taxes from $15,000 to $25,000. That means a house valued at $100,000 in Aldine would be taxed at $75,000. A final decision will be announced at the regular August 18 Board meeting.

Available sites for Economic Growth toured by District, and GHP Chamber

EAST ALDINE – The economic development committee reported to the board at their last meeting of an important tour of available industrial and commercial sites available in the district for development.

The tour was made with representatives of the Greater Houston Partnership on Monday morning, July 20th. The tour was initiated at the urging of committee member John Meinke, and involved economic development staff and GHP’s Jason Ford, ED director for that organization.

This cooperation between the two organizations, and the outreach by the District, marks an important step in East Aldine’s plan to create jobs and improve the quality of life in the area. The tour and accompanying listing of properties was developed with the help of EAMD’s Economic Development Advisor, Ray Lawrence. The map and listings included 11 sites, ranging from 4.8 acres to 101.1 acres. Most of the properties viewed were ready for development, and some were already in industrial parks and had utilities and amenities.

The sites included two on the Eastex Freeway, two on Beltway 8, two on Aldine Westfield, two on Aldine Bender, and three on JFK Boulevard.

The largest site is being developed by Clay Development, 101.1 acres known as Kennedy Greens South, which is adjacent to their fully developed Kennedy Greens Park.

The East Aldine Economic Developemtn Committee consists of chairwoman Joyce Wiley, John Meinke, Patti Acosta, and Gerald Overturff. Staff members include Gretchen Larson, Brian Burks and Jerry Lowry.

The staff presented to the committee a power point presentation of all the projects, events and programs for the past year that have taken place in the East Aldine District.

The committee is also working on taking the message of the District to national and regional developers trade shows.