- Humble ISD board, staff keeping their promise -
You can label the Humble Independent School District as the “new” Humble ISD.
Fourteen ambitious projects are underway, funded by a $575 million bond issue approved by voters in 2018.
The most dramatic projects include building a new Lakeland Elementary School and a new Kingwood Middle School, adding major new additions and renovations to Atascocita High School and Humble High School, and installing state-of-the-art flood gates at the “perennially flooding” Kingwood High School.
“We’re not building what we’ve always built in the same way we’ve always built,” said Humble ISD Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Fagen. “We’re being smart and maximizing the spaces available. The district is involved in a wonderful collaboration, working with students, the staff and our community. We’re being innovative and creating spaces for programs that our students haven’t had before.”
The 2018 bond package originally came about from recommendations of a Citizens Bond Advisory Committee, 98 parents, residents, district employees, business leaders and community leaders who answered a public request for six public sessions in the fall of 2017. Their recommendations to the Humble ISD Board of Trustees included building new schools, rebuilding aging facilities, renovating and repairing existing school facilities, and updating technology and safety enhancements.
Fagen is downright elated as she describes each project. At the Lake Houston Chamber’s January 2020 Humble BizCom, she previewed the new look for Lakeland Elementary, designed with input from Lakeland’s students, parents and faculty. The school will be completed in time for August 2021 classes and will be home to a unique performing arts center.
At the same BizCom, Fagen unveiled the impressive new look of Humble High School when its $35 million renovation is completed in 2022, resulting in a new library, cafeteria, competition gym and major exterior makeover.
“The students in our district experiencing these schools are going to love them,” she said. “They’re going to love the space. They’re going to love learning in these spaces, and I find that exciting.”
Lakeland Elementary was built in 1960 and is Humble’s oldest school. It will be relocated and built directly east of Turner Stadium. With its new design, Fagen says the district has the opportunity to create a “… multi-functional media space designed to resemble a tree house, setting a tone for play-based learning concepts and vision for the school, designed specifically to meet the learning needs of young children,” she said.
Fagen’s goal is for Humble ISD’s elementary school students to explore and experience all kinds of arts and electives programs so that they can “… figure out what they love and make better choices when they move into middle and high school. This concept is being piloted at Lakeland Elementary and it is going to be a wonderful addition to the City of Humble,” she said.
Relocating and rebuilding Lakeland Elementary and Kingwood Middle School, frankly, are cheaper and quicker than rehabbing the aging schools, according to Nolan Correa, Humble ISD’s associate superintendent for operational support services.
Together with Steven Hadley, executive director for construction, Correa oversees all Humble ISD’s planning and construction, including rebuilding and relocating Lakeland on Rustic Timbers Drive.
Kingwood Middle School will remain open until the new school opens in 2022, then the old building will be removed and athletic fields and other amenities will be added.
Atascocita High School is gaining 20 new classrooms and a third gym, allowing for the “temporary” buildings to be removed.
The most dramatic upgrade may be the flood gates that will be installed to protect Kingwood High School from persistent flooding.
Funds to build the flood gates are not part of the 2018 bond but rather a $25 million federal grant championed by U.S. Congressman Dan Crenshaw. District leaders developed a protection plan which FEMA approved. Construction on the $28 million project will begin during the 2020-2021 school year with completion in 2022. Humble ISD is providing about $3 million towards the project.
Here’s how the flood gates work: When heavy rain threatens the school, underground flood gates will float up, covering the school’s entrances. They are not visible any other time, do not use electricity, and are currently in use at the Texas Medical Center. Exterior walls will be waterproofed and new backflow preventers, currently in use at the Texas Medical Center, will be installed.
“It cost $63 million to restore Kingwood High School after Hurricane Harvey,” recalled Fagen. “During the restoration, Kingwood High School students and staff shared a campus with Summer Creek High School for most of the 2017-2018 school year.”
The 14 major construction projects, with more projects slated to come online as others are completed, reflects Humble ISD’s growing student population, confirmed by Dr. Roger Brown.
“We’re a fast-growing district, growing at a thousand students a year,” said Brown, Humble ISD deputy superintendent and chief academic officer.
“Our focus as a school board is ensuring that students throughout the district continue to learn in first-rate facilities,” said Robert Sitton, Humble ISD trustee and vice president and chair of Humble ISD’s Building and Planning Committee. “The Lake Houston Area is thriving. You see it everywhere – new home construction, more restaurants and retail centers opening, businesses locating their offices here.”
Schools are a major driver of that growth, said Sitton and “… developers tell us they want to build here because families want to buy in Humble ISD. The school construction that is occurring will keep Humble ISD as an attractive district for generations to come.”
Keep track of all district building projects at humbleisd.net/bond2018.
Projects currently underway as of Spring 2020:
- Centennial Elementary School (funded by Bond 2018) opens in August in the Lakewood Pines subdivision. The layout is based on a series of pods comprised of classrooms located around a central gathering space for each grade level.
- A new Lakeland Elementary School, open in 2021, will have a main entry featuring a multi-functional media space designed to resemble a tree house, which sets the tone for the play-based learning concept and vision for the school. Innovative and collaborative classroom spaces and engaging outdoor play areas are being designed specifically to meet the learning needs of young children.
- Elementary No. 30 is opening in 2021 in Fall Creek.
- Elementary Multi-purpose Rooms will bring 23 older elementary schools up to the standard of newer elementary schools by adding a gym for additional physical education classes and assembly rooms. The first six elementary schools to receive them will be Deerwood Elementary, Hidden Hollow Elementary, Pine Forest Elementary, Shadow Forest Elementary, Whispering Pines Elementary, Willow Creek Elementary, and the Community Learning Center. Targeted opening is 2021.
- Middle School No. 10, across from Balmoral, will open in 2022. The design will be like West Lake Middle School.
- The new Kingwood Middle School, open in 2022, incorporates the concept of Kingwood’s “Livable Forest," using ample amounts of natural light and sustainable materials to combine interior and exterior spaces into a cohesive learning environment. The existing school will remain open until the new school building is complete, then removed and athletic fields and other amenities will be completed.
- Atascocita High School gains 20 new classrooms and a third gym in 2021.
- Humble High School is getting a new cafeteria, library, competition gym and other renovations that will modernize and add light to the building. The target completion date is 2022.
- Kingwood Park High School is getting a third gym. The targeted opening is 2022.
- Kingwood High School is getting a third gym. The targeted opening is 2022.
- Summer Creek High School is gaining a third gym. The targeted opening is 2021.
- Quest Early College High School (funding includes sources other than Bond 2018) will gain its own campus by moving.
-Career and Technology Education, beginning in August, will relocate to high school campuses throughout the district. This is part of a comprehensive plan to meet the needs of all high school students desiring CTE classes by moving to campus-based career tech programs.
- The North Transportation Center opens in 2021 on 12 acres on Ford Road north of Kingwood. This additional transportation center will save an estimated $2 million in operating costs due to shorter routes and improved response times.
- The new Kingwood Ag Barn opens in 2021 near Mills Branch Drive and Ford Road. The southern Ag Barn will also be upgraded to match Kingwood.