NORTHEAST – You could almost hear the school bells ringing, as the Intercontinental Chamber hosted their annual State of the School luncheon, a report from district superintendents on the status of their districts, and changes from last year. This year’s luncheon was held at a new Greenspoint conference center.
Speaking on their districts were Wanda Bamberg, Aldine superintendent; Judy Rimato, Klein Assoc. Director of Communications; and Lupita Hinojosa, Spring chief academic officer. In addition, this year ICCH president Reggie Gray invited representatives from local colleges to report on their schools. This included Gerald Napoles, president of Lone Star College North Harris, and James Mable, Houston Baptist University director of career and calling.
The reports were in general dealing with population growth and more students, except for Aldine, and results of bond issues and how that money was used.
Other common topics were attendance problems, STAAR academic results, dealing with minorities, and how designation as a “District of Innovation” was being implemented.
Superintendent Bamberg said her district will have 1200 less students when it opens this year, for a total of 69,000. She said this is the first time in 25 years that the district experienced a decline, and suggested it was a combination of the economy and mobility, or households moving, that caused the change. Aldine will have 77 campuses this year, including a new CTE high school. Next year it will open 8 new campuses, a result of the $798M bond issue.
Some of the bond money will be used for renovations and additions, including Aldine and MacArthur High Schools.
Bamberg said that she has a Community Committee working on their designation as a “District of Innovation.” One of the results of this will be an emphasis on robotics.
She is also working on a Strategic Design for the future, looking at needs for the next five years, and a possible bond issue.
One of the strengths of her district, she said, is the variety of choice for students, including magnet schools and partnership with YES Prep. This will be enhanced as they implement the District of Innovation.
An important change in Aldine this school year if the reconfiguring or realignment of campuses, and feeder lines. Schools will be reorganized by age grouping, into PreK-K; Elementary grades 1-5; intermediate grades 6-8; 9th grade schools; and high schools. To make this work properly, the district is undergoing a complete redrawing of all their attendance boundaries.
Bamberg said that they are watching the Legislative session closely, noting that so far a modest pay raise, and the apparent defeat of HB21 allowing vouchers for private schools, are positive results.
Judy Rimato, Associate Superintendent for Communications, said that Klein’s motto is “Enter with a Promise. Exit with a Purpose.” This echoed the intent of all the districts, and colleges, to provide more job training and career choices, as well as academic preparation for college.
Klein continues to grow, at a rate of 2% per year. They will open with 49 campuses, and a student population of 52,000. Their 2015 bond issue will provide for a new high school, Klein Payne named for the previous superintendent.
Rimato spoke about academic initiatives, based on a Survey of Students conducted by Superintendent Bret Champion when he first took office. He termed this Vision Testing, and as a result, 3 Profiles were identified, which were aspirational and inspirational, Rimato said. These Profiles were summarized as Learner, Leader, and Teacher. Educational programs are related to these visions. In addition, emphasis has been placed on building personal relationships, with students, staff, and parents.
Klein ISD has been designated to receive a grant from H.E.B. for a Leadership Institute, one of only 25 districts in Texas to receive this. It is a five year program, to improve teaching.
She said that the high schools have strong programs in International Baccalaureate, International Business, and a new Nursing program.
Lupita Hinojosa, chief academic officer for Spring AIS, reported that the 2016 bond issue of $330 million had overwhelming approval. The purchase of 60 new buses will mean 22,000 students closer to their school will be able to get a ride, improving safety and performance.
The bond money will also be used for 3500 new computers, and new buildings. This includes two new middle schools, and a 9th grade center in 2020, expecting to relieve the crowding in the three existing high schools.
New attendance boundaries are being drawn for the 37,000 students. Klein is also a District of Innovation, allowing more local control and flexibility. She said this will also allow better support and training for the teachers.
Hinojosa’s district is putting emphasis on Attendance, attempting to make at risk students feel more involved and important. She said this will improve their STAAR ratings.
Another focus is Literacy, with an expanded library in each classroom, and a Family Expo last Saturday emphasizing reading as a fundamental.
LONE STAR COLLEGE
Cut: SPEAKERS at the State of the Schools Luncheon included, seated, Wanda Bamberg, Aldine ISD; Judy Rimato, Klein ISD; Lupita Hinojosa, Spring ISD; standing, James Mable, HBU; Gerald Napoles, LSC-NH; and Reggie Gray, president, ICCH Chamber.
Gerald Napoles, president of North Harris, said that LSC has 6 campuses and 95,000 students. Some of these are part-time, or dual credit high school students.
He noted that LSC had a new partnership with Klein ISD, and an ongoing relationship with Aldine ISD, including a new campus to open in 2018 in East Aldine.
He spoke about the importance of community colleges, and their availability and accessibility to a large group of students. He said LSC now has 4 year programs with bachelor’s degrees, in Nursing, Applied Technology, and in the future Cybersecurity. Napoles, a graduate himself of community colleges, noted the cost for 2 years is only $3100, while a 4 year college averages $32,000.
HOUSTON BAPTIST UNIVERSITY
James Mable, director of career and calling, spoke about Houston Baptist University. The school has 3300 students, and 20,000 alumni.
A new college is being added, a College of Engineering, in 2018. It will offer courses in Cyber Engineering and Cyber Security, new fields nationally.
Mable spoke of an emphasis on career services and preparing students for the workforce as a new focus at HBU.