The School Zone: News


Executive Session

Trustees met in executive session to discuss routine personnel matters and related matters as allowed under Texas law. Following this session, Trustees voted unanimously (7-0) to approve routine personnel items as recommended.

First Reading of Policy

Trustees held a first reading of local policy BQA Planning and Decision-making Process: District Level. This proposal reflects minor language changes involving the District Improvement Team. New or amended policies come up before the Board at least three times before final approval voting occurs. This local policy is posted online for public comment until Dec. 4.
Policy BQA (Local) Planning and Decision-making Process: District Level

Second Reading of Policy

A second reading of local policy CAA Fiscal Management Goals and Objectives: Financial Ethics was held. Trustee Karen Peck reported that no proposed amendments were submitted and no public comments had been received. This policy will move forward for third reading and a final adoption vote at the Board’s next regular meeting. Public comment period ended on Nov. 15.
Policy CAA (Local) Fiscal Management Goals and Objectives: Financial Ethics

Reports and Discussions
Village Fire Station Additions and Renovations

SBISD Associate Superintendent for Operations Travis Stanford introduced a leadership team associated with the upcoming addition and renovation project at the Village Fire Station, 901 Corbindale, adjacent to the district’s Wayne Schaper Leadership Center and to Spring Branch Middle School’s track and field.

Fire Commissioner Jay Carlton, who also serves on Hunters Creek Village Council, was joined in a presentation by Principal Scott Brady with Joiner Partnership Inc. and Amos Byington, who is with AG/CM Inc. During the months ahead, work will begin on main fire station improvements including a dispatch center relocation, four additional apparatus bays and new live/sleep areas for firefighters. No additional land or boundary changes are needed. A 100-foot radio tower will be removed. Cypress trees along the station’s east border will be replaced. The local fire station serves six Memorial villages, and protects as many SBISD campuses.
Village Fire Department 2019 Addition and Renovation Project: Presentation

Discussion of Construction Document Phase:
Memorial High School Addition and Renovations Project

SBISD Associate Superintendent for Operations Travis Stanford presented a summary of the first phase of the Memorial High Additions and Renovation Project, including community involvement through the Project Advisory Team (PAT), and then introduced the Stantec Architecture Inc. team, which presented planning and progress to date. The full presentation with Board member queries was 40 minutes long.

Phase 1 of Memorial High’s project plan begins on the east side of the campus with installation of eight new tennis courts, along with covered spectator seating and student athlete facilities and locker rooms. When new courts are completed next spring, current tennis courts on the west side of the campus will be removed. After site work, work will begin on a dramatic four-story, 140,000-square feet, building, a focal point for the updated campus. A two-story cafeteria will anchor three upper floors of classrooms, science labs and flexible spaces. A “red stair” will connect floors; large glass window-walls will provide natural light and inspiring campus and courtyard views.

In addition, the 2-year estimated high school project will include many other significant improvements. These include demolitions of three school wings (Aqua, White and Green) in the current building, plus the Science and Engineering buildings; relocation of parking and vehicle waiting zones with designated student parking, parent drop-off and pick-up drives, a new, separate bus loop; and secured entry area, perimeter fencing, life safety and other improvements. 

The 2-year construction plan will focus strongly on work conducted over the next two summers, stated Stantec Principal Jennifer Henrikson. She likened the work plan to a jigsaw puzzle. Memorial’s students will remain on campus during the two phases of work. Existing school renovations are included, too, to repair restrooms, replace broken tiles, repaint and add a required elevator.

Stantec Project Manager Mark Jackson presented a point-by-point, floor-by-floor presentation moving through smaller projects as well as the big, new multi-level building. A 3-D “flyover” project animation was also presented. Trustees praised the overall design and planning effort, decision to have students and faculty remain on the Echo Lane campus, and the focus on improving traffic flow. Board President Pam Goodson gave special thanks to the support given by Hedwig Village officials to renovation plans.
Presentation: Memorial High Addition and Renovations Project
Board Workshop Video: Memorial High Addition and Renovations Project
3-D Animation: Memorial High Addition and Renovations Project

Discussion of Construction Document Phase:
Northbrook High School Addition and Renovations Project

After introductory remarks by SBISD Associate Superintendent for Operations Travis Stanford, members of the PBK Architecture team presented a summary review of the construction document phase related to Northbrook High School. PBK’s team includes Principal Brandon Ross, Senior Project Manager Philip Steward and Senior Project Designer Jorge Tiscareno. The team presentation was 45 minutes in length.

PBK’s Ross praised the commitment of Northbrook High’s Project Advisory Team (PAT), which met eight times, and will meet once again early next year to revive the overall project. PAT member reached total consensus (100 percent) on key design and project elements. In brief, the Northbrook project will add a three-story addition providing 20 classrooms and two science labs. Other significant work includes roof replacement; new main entry point with plaza; secure front office suite; defined points of entrance and exit for cars, buses and student walkers; restroom upgrades; redesign of public access to gyms; security, lighting and flooring, and mechanical system upgrades, and district improvements ranging from student technology to installation of a turf practice field.

Prominent exterior upgrades will include a defined and clear main entry with a driver drop-off area and student plaza marked by a campus-hued canopy creating a stylish “maroon ribbon” along the southern campus façade. To the north side, a new student plaza exit area may redirect end-of-day traffic around the Raider Lane circle and the bus loading area. The three-level academic building includes large glazed windows on the two upper floors, with smaller windows below, adding needed natural light to a broad portion of the high school, built in a period when enclosed campuses were more common.

District leaders and PBK staff will work with the City of Houston in several project related areas, such as speed tables on Raider Circle for designated pedestrian crossings and potential storage of underground storm water, as needed to meet project offsets.

Trustees praised the work of Northbrook High’s PAT, the overall redesign plan for this campus, and key design elements ranging from the addition of natural light in the classroom addition to a focus in many areas on specific student needs, from power outlets for digital devices to restrooms with wet areas for personal hygiene and grooming needs.
Presentation: Northbrook High Addition and Renovations Project
Board Workshop Video: Northbrook High Addition and Renovations Project
3-D Animation: Northbrook High Addition and Renovations Project

Literacy Update Discussion

Superintendent Jennifer Blaine, Ed.D., introduced a frank and transparent Literacy Update presentation by stating that literacy is critical to the district’s T-2-4 goal. Students must read on grade level by third-grade for SBISD to have every student attain technical certification, enter military service, or earn a two- or four-year college degree. Dr. Blaine told Trustees that current data shows that much work is needed in the literacy area. A 50-minute presentation and discussion followed.

Associate Superintendent for Academics Kristin Craft, Ed.D., led the current data presentation. She was joined by Early Childhood Learning Director Sharee Cantrell and Directors of Humanities Joyce Evans (K-5) and Holly Durham (6-12). Dr. Craft shared literacy data and trends on student reading and writing for elementary and middle school students, as well as literacy area priorities and plans.

In brief, elementary data trends from this fall indicate that large numbers of district students are reading below grade level at each grade (MAP); more than 50 percent of students are reading below grade level, in most grades (Running Records); students are writing at the level they read (STAAR Composition). Also impacted by low reading levels, Dr. Craft said, are English Learners, who must read well enough to leave Spanish language instruction. Thirteen elementary schools are now under state or federal improvement plans.

At the middle school level, MAP data and Composition STAAR results reflect elementary school trends in reading below grade level. At four middle schools, more than half of students read below grade levels. SBISD has five middle schools currently under state or federal improvement plans. “There has to be a tremendous amount of writing and reading occurring each and every day in every middle school classroom,” Dr. Craft said. “We have a tremendous amount of work to do to make sure our students read on and above grade level.”

SBISD has moved forward quickly in recent months to address key literacy priorities. District leadership, including Drs. Blaine and Craft and three Community Superintendents who work directly with assigned schools, conduct classroom walks and observations. Clear expectations are set, and principal meetings and trainings have been a priority in recent months.

Using a Balanced Literacy approach, phonics is combined in a framework with daily reading and writing classroom workshop goals, along with word study, read aloud and shared reading and writing sessions. Many district teachers are trained through Columbia University’s Teachers College Reading and Writing Project on daily, 8-minute writing mini-lessons, one literacy plus. A focus on daily reading and writing is needed, Dr. Craft restated strongly.

Priorities for success in literacy include focus on three areas across grade levels – teaching and learning, professional development, and instructional materials. One bright spot in SBISD is establishment across all schools of in-classroom libraries, with books of all types and reading proficiency levels with personal book bags so that student reading is encouraged both at home and school.

Middle schools will also focus on classroom libraries, e-books, and training and certification for teachers in the literacy-focused Abydos program. In addition, the district has opened a special book study behind Leading Well, written by literacy expert Lucy Caulkins. 

At the community partnership level, the district’s Community Relations group has started pilot work and review on a reading buddy program that may be part of a broad Read SBISD initiative. Dr. Craft said that Trustees will review the district’s K-3 goals in literacy and numeracy at their December meeting.

During discussion, several Board members expressed concern for data results, but praised the district administration for its clarity and transparency. While SBISD has hired five new specialist leads in the literacy field, more are needed. Several Trustees said that funding needs will be addressed.

Board President Pam Goodson said that she was “super fired up” by the literacy presentation and plan presented, calling it outstanding across her Trustee experience. “This is the best discussion item I have witnessed in 10 years,” she said. “I don’t think that there are many Boards around who can sit around the table like this with staff and talk about areas for growth and improvement.”

She compared the frank session to what parents teach their own. “We teach kids all the time, ‘When you get knocked down, you gotta get back up.’” The district can’t improve until it acknowledges, as it had just done, that it has fallen in one area. “This is the best vision I have seen coming out of a Board meeting in 10 years,” she also said.

In closing remarks, Dr. Blaine said that district leadership was responsible for the literacy issue, and any resolution. “We own this,” she said, and then later said, “I promise you that we will fix this. It’s going to take some time, but we are going to do right by our kids. We want every child to have that opportunity for T-2-4. That’s the Board’s goal. That’s our vision. We’re going to get there!”
Presentation: Literacy Update
Board Workshop Video: Literacy Update and Discussion