Discuss joint efforts in education, school safety, workforce
ALDINE – Harris County Pct. 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia held a special meeting with school superintendents in his precinct, to explore ways that his administration could help with the goal of improving educational performance, school safety, and workforce development after graduation.
The luncheon meeting was held at the new Aldine Mead Middle School on Lauder Road last Friday.
Attending were some of the precinct superintendents, workforce representatives, TexasCentral high speed rail, Pct. 2 infrastructure, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez and his SWAT team, Aldine department heads and police, and Harris County engineering department.
In his opening remarks, Commissioner Garcia said he called the meeting to discuss educational advancement and job opportunities for residents of Pct. 2. with the goal of improving the Quality of Life for them.
He noted that the district had a lower than average household income, and lower academic achievement level than other precincts in the county. He stated that he had run on an education platform, and he wanted to coordinated with others to achieve improvements.
Noting that his office and the school district had tight budgets, he said he was looking for partners to help with innovation in education.
Garcia mentioned that education should start early in the home, that Pre-K was important for everyone, that innovation could help in schools, and adult education was an important part of the solution.
Representatives from TexasCentral rail, and Texas Workforce Dept. indicated that this project would bring in 10,000 construction jobs to the area, and 1,500 permanent jobs of all types to run the railroad. Workforce is developing a training program for all the types of jobs that will be available, and expect to provide ancillary services such as childcare and transportation. Comm. Garcia said he was in favor of the project for the benefit it would bring to his constituency in Pct. 2.
Garcia then turned to education matter. He stated that he had hired a consultant, Capital Ideas, to develop new programs for children and youth education.
Garcia then asked Jeremy Phillips of his infrastructure program, and Stuart Corder of the engineering department, to discuss initiatives to alleviate future flooding, and to continue to help victims of the hurricane.
Phillips pointed out that adjacent to the school, the county was building the Lauder Road Detention Basin, a major flood control project. He said that local drainage was also being improvements, such as ditches along roads.
They also addressed improvements to traffic flow and traffic safety around schools and bus stops, citing need for sidewalks, lighting, and stacking lanes. Garcia said these would all receive his attention and action.
In a related discussion, Sheriff Gonzalez spoke about tragic traffic deaths of students, and how they attempt to stop this with increased patrols and traffic adjustments.
Gonzalez also outlined the training and coordination that his agency and others are undertaking to deal with active shooting situations in schools. He also spoke about a new program he is implementing to help children of parents who are incarcerated. He maintains a 24 hour monitoring by CCTV of crime areas, and also monitors social media for threats and reports. Garcia suggested that they run a real-time exercise in a vacant Aldine school for training.
The HCDE representative said that they now have a new high school for substance abuse recovering students.
Garcia said that another issue for the Aldine area, and his precinct in general, was the building of more new homes. This was especially critical in Aldine, since so many had been flooded by Harvey, and many have still not been able to return to their old home. Jeremy Phillips stated that East Aldine was the largest area flooded by Hurricane Harvey in all of Harris County.
Garcia said in summary, that “We are committed to the school districts, and we will support them.” He is developing a Master Plan for the priorities in Pct. 2, and encourages feedback from citizens and potential partners to contribute to this effort.