In the final Humble ISD Board of Trustees meeting of the year, the agenda was dominated by a multitude of construction projects designed to meet the growing student population.
Financial matters and district growth were the foremost topics of the meeting. The board voted to increase the Assigned General Fund Balance by $2.1 million. The large majority of this money ($1.6 million) will be used for the purchase and movement of temporary buildings (T-buildings) to house students on several burgeoning campuses. The detailed budget is available in the School Board section of humbleisd.net.
Parents from several elementary and middle schools in the district have spoken at past board meetings regarding campus overcrowding, urging the board to move quickly and decisively to remedy the problem.
The district has plans to build several new campuses, but temporary measures are needed to handle the high rate of growth within the district. Additional T-buildings are needed, and some T-buildings need to be moved between campuses based on 2019-2020 enrollment projections. The $1.6 million was requested by the district’s Facilities Planning Department to purchase the T-buildings and help with other costs like moving, installation, furnishings, fencing and technology.
The work is expected to be done in Summer 2019.
When architectural services are expected to exceed $50,000, board approval is required. The company Stantec was added to the approved list of district vendors in August, and the board approved Stantec to provide the T-building engineering and architectural services, not to exceed $100,000, for the summer project.
The district has made several land purchases in recent years for building schools like the new Elementary School 29, a project awarded to Joiner Architects, which presented the final design concept at the Dec. 11 meeting. The new school is expected to house 1,080 students, and was originally planned to open in August 2019. Now, the school is expected to open in August 2020, in Atascocita, in the 13000 block of W. Lake Houston Pkwy. It is one of the last projects to be funded from the voter-approved 2008 $245-million bond referendum.
The board also approved Stantec to design and construct the North Ag Barn facility, the cost of which is covered in the new $575-million bond referendum approved by voters in May 2018. The North Ag Barn will replace the flood-beleaguered Ag Barn on Woodland Hills Drive.
The North Ag Barn cannot be built fast enough. Recent torrential rains brought more flooding from the San Jacinto River’s West Fork. As floodwaters again threatened the Kingwood Ag Barn, students, parents and district staff acted quickly on Saturday morning, Dec. 8, to move livestock to the Humble Civic Center, which welcomed evacuees ranging from chickens to cows.
Near the North Ag Barn, the district will build a North Transportation Center, also approved in the May $575-million bond. The board approved IBI Group for the design and construction of the facility, as well as renovations to the existing transportation facility in Humble.
The school board received good news about savings realized from the Kingwood High School restoration project. Phase 2 of the project was originally expected to cost $11.2 million, but the actual costs ended up decreasing the total contract cost by $5.7 million.
The board also approved $2.5 million from the Capital Projects Fund to move forward with a district data-center upgrade.
Property tax refunds have been discussed at several past board meetings, and the board reviewed refunds that have been requested by taxpayers for either overpayment or payments made in error by the taxpayer. Approving the measure ensured the district is in compliance with the Texas Property Tax Code, and the total refund reduced total property tax collections by $2.7 million.
The board approved two renewals to ensure the continuation of important district programs. The Kingwood Park High School Air Force J-ROTC program was renewed to continue past June 2019. Second, the agreement between the Humble ISD Police Department and the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement was renewed until 2023. The extension allows the district to serve as a local training provider for peace officers and other law enforcement officials.