11/09/16 2:30pm

HISD PROP 1 VOTERS TO STATE: COME AND TAKE IT OR MAYBE DO SOMETHING ELSE INSTEAD hattie-mae-white-centerWhile the Heights Dry Zone was dampened yesterday by a 63-to-36-percent moistening vote for City of Houston Prop. 1, HISD’s non-alcohol-related Prop. 1 was shot down yesterday by about the same margin (62-to-37-percent against). Laura Isensee writes that the measure was on the ballot this year because Houston’s rising property tax values have put it above a wealth threshold requiring it to share revenue into the state’s education funding system, “even if the majority of its students come from low-income households.” Crossing that threshold means the district was asked to send around $162 million this year to be distributed around; the ‘no’ vote however, denied the district permission to send the money the usual way (which no district has ever refused to do before). To get at the funds, the state could redraw the boundaries of HISD to move some higher-tax-value property into other nearby districts — or it could overhaul the education funding system during this year’s legislative session, as that Texas Supreme Court ruling in May strongly recommended (but did not order). Isensee writes that mayor Turner and others who campaigned against the proposition are hoping the vote will spur the Legislature to reform education funding in the upcoming session; lieutenant governor Dan Patrick has already said a special summer session could be called to tackle the issue, while governor Greg Abbott has already said that won’t be necessary. [Houston Public Media] Photo of HISD central office at 4400 West 18th St.: HISD

10/14/16 2:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: A DIFFERENT TAKE ON THE BELLAIRE HIGH CAMPUS SWAP QUESTION Bellaire HS, 5100 Maple St., Bellaire, TX 77401“Currently, Sharpstown High is being rebuilt. Rather than tearing down the old school building when the new one is complete, let that become the temporary home of Bellaire. Stagger hours of the 2 schools, rent parking space at nearby vacant lots, run shuttles, etc. They’re geographically not that far from each other. This would allow Bellaire to be rebuilt on the same footprint and keep the student body together.” [Terri Bamberger, commenting on Hitting the Brakes on the Bellaire High School Chevron Campus Swap Talk] Photo of Bellaire High School campus at 5100 Maple St.: Houston ISD

10/04/16 1:15pm

FEDS TO TEXAS: STOP PRESSURING SCHOOLS INTO CAPPING SERVICES FOR KIDS WITH DISABILITIES ISD Map The Department of Education sent out a knock-it-off letter yesterday in response to recently published documentation of a 32% drop in the percentage of Texas students getting special education services — down from 12.1% in 2000 to a seemingly-research-free “goal” of 8.5%. Brian M. Rosenthal reports that the push to reduce the special ed enrollment rate (a policy which was never publically announced) came shortly after the legislature cut the Texas Education Agency’s budget by more than a billion dollars in 2003; the 2004 special ed policy change may have saved the state billions of dollars by withholding federally-mandated accommodations for “children with autism, ADHD, dyslexia, epilepsy, mental illnesses, speech impediments, and blindness and deafness.” Though the agency also couldn’t provide any documentation as to why that target number was picked, educators and district administrators have told Rosenthal that the percentage functions as a de facto cap on how many students can receive services, since failure to come in below the 8.5% benchmark docks a school’s performance rating. Meanwhile, HISD’s own numbers have reportedly gone below and beyond the requirement, diving to 7.4% special ed enrollment versus 19% in New York City. Texas has 30 days to get back to the Department of Education on how it thinks the policy has impacted state school districts, and what it plans to do about it. [Houston Chronicle] Map of Houston-area school districts: TEA School District Locator

09/28/16 11:00am

HISD TOSSING AROUND A BELLAIRE HS REBUILD ON THE CHEVRON CAMPUS UP THE STREET 4800 Fournace Pl., Bellaire, TX, 77401On Monday some HISD folks pitched the idea of buying Chevron’s soon-to-be-empty land on Fournace Place to a committee overseeing the lately-stagnant push to rebuild Bellaire High School, Charlotte Aguilar reports this week. The 28-acre tract, which goes on sale on Saturday, is about 2 miles north of the school’s existing 17-acre campus and also fronts S. Rice Ave. HISD trustee Mike Lunceford tells Aguilar that Bellaire, “while one of the largest high schools in HISD, is on the smallest property.” Principal Michael McDonough emailed stakeholders to say that if HISD decides to back the plan and is able to buy the land, funding would probably be put to a bond election; meanwhile, the existing school would still need some work while a new one was built. The Chevron land currently has a 10-story office midrise on it; the shot above looks out the window of that building toward the West Loop and the freeway-side Shell station next door (also up for sale). [Instant News Bellaire; previously on Swamplot] Photo from 4800 Fournace Pl.: Alvin A.

09/22/16 10:30am

LANIER MIDDLE SCHOOL CEREMONIALLY CHANGES NAME TO LANIER MIDDLE SCHOOL Bob Lanier crestThe Lanier-Lanier name change got the official seal of approval as of yesterday morning by way of a seal-updating and renaming ceremony at the middle school’s campus at Woodhead St. and Westheimer Rd. That previously threatened lawsuit over the HISD’s plan to flush out Confederate sympathizers from its campus name roster was in fact filed in late June by a group of parent-and-alumni-types; documents filed with the district clerk’s office show that a request by the plaintiffs for a temporary injunction to stop the renamings from moving forward was denied by the judge on August 22nd. Lanier’s campus is keeping all but its first name, swapping author Sydney for former Houston mayor Bob; the other 7 schools on the changeover list started the year with more dramatic shifts in nomenclature. [HISD Blog; previously on Swamplot] Image of new Bob Lanier Middle School seal: HISD    

05/09/16 10:45am

Lanier Middle School, 2600 Woodhead St., Montrose, Houston, 77098

A list of proposed school name changes was released on Friday as HISD moved forward with plans to to cut ties with the Confederacy. The switchover of Henry W. Grady Middle School to Tanglewood Middle School was already approved by the district board of education back in March — here are the 6 and a half new names proposed for the 7 remaining schools, which could be applied by the start of the 2016-2017 school year:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

School Swapouts
03/14/16 10:00am

Jefferson Davis Site Plan 2014, Quitman at Tackaberry St., Northside, Houston, 77009

Cast in projector blue above: a snapshot of renderings for the remodel of Jefferson Davis High School, which is planning to expand. The Northside school, one of 8 in HISD changing names to drop references to Confederate figures, is getting some shiny new teaching facilities, including upgraded spaces for its culinary arts and management students (as shown in the projection above). The campus on Quitman St. is also staking out new parking lot territory across Tackaberry St.

Hungry for the details? HISD is hosting a community meeting on April 7th at the school to talk design plans. Until then, here’s a preview of the planned new exterior for the performing arts space:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Northside Remake
03/04/16 2:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW HSPVA’S BUILDING SWAP COULD LEAVE HOLES IN STUDENT CULTURE New High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Caroline St. and Rusk St., Downtown, Houston“My son is a graduate of HSPVA. His reaction to seeing the photo of the proposed school: ‘Windows?!’” [Colleen, commenting on Scenes from the Set of HSPVA’s Upcoming Downtown Campus, Now In Progress] Rendering of under-construction replacement campus of the High School for Performing and Visual Arts: Gensler

03/02/16 10:15am

New HSPVA Building at Austin St. and Texas Ave., Downtown, Houston, 77002

The first act of construction of the new downtown facilities for the High School for Performing and Visual Arts featured an extended solo by a lone excavator supported by a small cluster of white vehicles, per photos of the site released yesterday. Work on the former parking lot bounded by Austin, Capitol, Caroline, and Rusk streets got the go-ahead in late February now that some budget issues are settled, according to HISD.

Here’s a ground-level shot that introduces a few more characters to the production — in this scene, the Excavator meets with the Man in Yellow, as a Blue Semi observes in stony silence:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Encore on Austin St.
02/26/16 1:15pm

Well, almost: More than 50 Texas schools currently bear the names of Confederate soldiers, writes Drew Blackburn in Texas Monthly. The interactive map above was included in yesterday’s article, which pairs the location of each school with a demographic breakdown of its student body. Back in January, HISD announced its decision to rename 4 of 7 schools in the district named for Confederate figures (including Dowling Middle School, missing from the map); 2 weeks ago, the school board voted to go ahead and rename the other 3 as well. Dallas and Austin have also begun renaming schools.

Map of Texas schools named after Confederate figures: Texas Monthly

 

Civil War Battlegrounds
02/22/16 10:30am

Houston Bakery & Cafe, 1035 Quitman St., Northside, Houston, 77009

The past caught up with Houston Cafe & Bakery’s former location at the corner of Tackaberry and Quitman streets last week. The Mexican cafe and panaderia departed to a more northern, more strip-center location at 2435 Fulton St. back in 2015, when Houston ISD bought the Quitman property. A demo permit for the site was issued last Thursday, and by Friday the scene above was already playing out.

Across Tackaberry, soon-t0-be-renamed Jefferson Davis High School is in the early stages of a redo that will upgrade its 1926 building and add some new facilities for the school’s culinary arts and hotel management specialization. Finalized designs from Bay-IBI aren’t out yet, but a community meeting is planned for Thursday of this week, and demo work on some nearby houses has already been going on to make room for expansion.

Here’s a peek at a preliminary site plan from back in 2014, which shows the campus expanding across Tackaberry all the way to Fulton St.:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Tackaberry Takeout
03/12/15 12:15pm

Rendering of Proposed High School for Law and Justice, Scott St. Between Coyle and Pease, East Downtown, Houston

HISD says it’s completed the purchase of land on Scott St., just north of the Gulf Fwy. between Coyle St. and Pease, for its new High School for Law and Justice, pictured above in a rendering from the DLR Group and Page, the building’s architects. HISD jettisoned the criminal enforcement elements of the school’s name last year; it was formerly known as the High School for Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice. The site is near the southern edge of East Downtown, adjacent to the Leeland station of the about-to-open Purple light-rail line.

Notable features of the new 104,866-sq.-ft. building include a courtroom and law library, special spaces for both ROTC and visual arts programs, a gym, and a black box theater. The facility also appears to be designed for easy surveillance: “From the ground floor, transparent walls will allow visibility into labs on the second level for a crime scene area, fire science and a 911 training call center,” an HISD account notes. And that’s just how principal Carol Mosteit wants it: “I love the idea of having all this transparency and glass because we’ll be able to see the learning that’s taking place throughout the building,” she told an HISD blogger. “The way traditional schools are set up, it’s almost like an interruption when you open up a classroom door. We won’t have to worry about that with a 21st century building design.”

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

They’ll Be Watching
11/21/14 11:00am

BT-Washington-Hood5

Demos appear to be ready to commence on a good-sized swath of Independence Heights surrounding Booker T. Washington High School at 119 East 39th St.

“Seems everything between Yale and Main is about to be bulldozed… an entire neighborhood vanishing,” writes a reader. “It’s really kinda spooky looking — like an abandoned ghost town”:

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Independence Heights
11/17/14 10:30am

SAY SALAAM TO THE SHADY ACRES HOME OF HOUSTON’S FIRST ARABIC IMMERSION SCHOOL HISD-Arabic-use-thisHere’s where some of Houston’s future bilingual Arabic-English speakers will learn their two alphabets: HISD’s former Holden Elementary and the current home of more recently the Energy Institute High School at 812 W. 28th. St., just across N. Durham St. from a ramshackle flower shop just inside the North Loop. An energy school giving way to Arabic-language instruction? Synergy? Arabic trails only Spanish (and English) among languages HISD students speak at home, according to statistics from the district. Interested parents of rising pre-kindergartners and kindergartners were able to start applying last Friday for the magnet program slated to begin next Fall. Two each of pre-K and kindergarten classes will comprise the school’s first classes next year. If the district’s first Arabic immersion school is to operate the same way the existing Spanish- and Mandarin-English HISD schools do, students will be taught half in English and half in Modern Standard Arabic. [HISD] Photo: Swamplot Inbox

10/16/14 2:15pm

New High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Caroline St. and Rusk St., Downtown, Houston

Here’s a cutaway view looking into what’s being called the final design of the new Downtown campus for Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. Escalating construction costs have spurred HISD to accelerate the 2012 bond program that’s paying for the new HSPVA campus along with rebuilding programs at approximately 40 schools. So construction on the 5-story, 168,000-sq.-ft. building designed by the Houston office of Gensler is expected to begin within a few weeks, and end shortly after the 2017 school year begins.

CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

Show and Tell