Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts dominated discussions at the Oct. 10 monthly meeting of the Humble ISD Board of Trustees.
The meeting opened with the district’s “Inspiring Moments” video highlighting Kingwood High School (KHS) building recovery efforts and the cohesion that has formed between KHS and Summer Creek High School (SCHS) students and teachers.
Some parents, however, were far from inspired. Earlier in the day, KHS parents received their first update of the year regarding progress. In that memo, the district stated restoration efforts could take the entire school year to complete.
Some parents were clearly upset, not only by the lack of communication from the district, but also by the slow construction progress. In September, a campus open house was held at SCHS to give Kingwood parents an opportunity to visit the campus where their children would be attending. At that meeting, some teachers apparently communicated to parents that they had been told they’d be back in their classrooms by December, or Spring Break in March, at the latest. Therefore, a month later, when parents received Tuesday’s memo, they were surprised. Two parents spoke at the Oct. 10 meeting.
Mike Frocinos has two children at KHS, and urged the board to focus on the physical condition of the high school. He voiced his frustration at the lack of communication from the district, and urged the board to take advantage of the community construction expertise that has repeatedly been offered to them since the Harvey flood.
“Let us help you effectively manage your contractors so we can make better progress,” Frocinos said.
Another parent, Albert Sayegh, also asked for more transparency and said that he is anxious to get the Kingwood campus open so students can return to a normal schedule.
“As parents, we want this to be a temporary situation, so knowing when this will be over is of utmost importance,” Sayegh said.
Floodwaters reached the second floor of the Kingwood High School building, creating $30-$40 million in structural and property damage. The board reported that 30,000 gallons of water was pumped out of the 500,000-square-foot facility on the first day alone. The district says it is also their goal to move students back to campus as soon as it is safe to do so. Blackmon Mooring has completed the 30-45 day drying process, and environmental studies are currently underway to test for humidity, mold and air quality; this testing must be complete before construction can begin. There’s no plan to extensively redesign the campus, but major plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems must be replaced, as well as cafeteria infrastructure.
It was announced that, at this point, it is undetermined whether construction at Kingwood High will take a year, less than a year, or longer.
The district expects that insurance payments will cover $28 million of the damage. While not yet confirmed, the board is anticipating that FEMA will cover 90 percent of the remaining costs, and the state of Texas will cover the remaining 10 percent.
The board’s building and planning committee reported that the Instructional Support Center is at the same stage as KHS, and is undergoing environmental testing. They are also looking at the agricultural barn located on Woodland Hills Drive near The Barrington. Repairs are underway, but the board is looking for a permanent fix, perhaps another site. They considered the possibility of building the current site up about 10 feet, but nearby roads still flood, and the facility would be inaccessible, leaving animals stranded.
The Humble ISD Education Foundation honored Steve and Katy Weirich, owners of K &S Sportswear, for their efforts in creating the Humble ISD Strong T-shirts. Expecting to perhaps sell 500, instead the foundation sold over 5,000 shirts, bringing in an additional $33,000 to their coffers. Shirts were shipped to 24 different states, including Alaska. The foundation has received numerous donations from around the country, and has changed its funding prioritization. They’ve also decided to cancel their annual fundraiser golf tournament this year, but thanked donors who are contributing funds despite the cancellation.
One of those donors is the accounting firm of Perdue, Brandon, Fielder, Collins and Mott, who is contracted by the district to collect delinquent property taxes. The firm presented its annual 2016-17 report stating that of the $220 million tax base, $217 million has been collected. They continue to work on collecting the remaining $3 million. The reporting period ended in June, before Harvey hit, and the 2017-18 report is expected to show impacts of the storm on the tax situation.
Despite Harvey, the board voted to adopt a 2017 tax rate that is unchanged at $1.52. The Citizen Bond Advisory Committee will hold its second meeting Oct. 19 at Humble High School. Community members can sign up at humbleisd.net or in person Oct. 19 to serve on the committee. At the September meeting, 109 out of 169 registered participants attended. Board members do not attend as it is a true citizen advisory committee to determine whether the community will support a 2018 or future bond effort. (See related Tribune Story: ourtribune.com/headlines/community-meets-for-initial-bond-review-meetings-2)
There were several important items discussed that did not relate to Harvey:
- Elementary Teachers of the Year were also honored, as were Super Staffers Dawn Swanson, Layna Murphy and Henry Parrish.
- Charles Cunningham was re-elected to the TASB statewide board for a second term. He received 20 endorsements, the highest to date.
- Nancy Morrison is now a Master Trustee, having completed the Leadership TASB training offered to board members.
- Groves Elementary is newly opened and running for the 2017-18 school year. Contractors are still working on a punch list of final items.
- PASA demographic data is being gathered to determine a location for new Elementary School No. 29. Joiner Architects has been awarded the building contract.
- Construction of Middle School No. 9 is approximately 40 percent complete. The school is anticipated to be finished in April 2018 with classes starting in August.
- The district received its 14th straight score of 100 on the 2017 state financial management report.
- Angela Conrad gave a Super Neighborhood committee report. HPD performed over 1,600 water rescues during Harvey. Intersection improvement projects were delayed by the storm, but will begin Oct. 15. Houston METRO invites citizens to provide input on their long-range planning efforts at metronext.org.
- Ross Sterling Middle School received a five-year grant of $784,000 from TEA in 2016 to participate in a 21st Century Community Learning Center effort. The board requested authorization to enter into a second-year contract, but Charles Cunningham first asked for a first-year progress report before committing to the grant.