HISD overcrowded classes cut in half

The number of Houston Independent School District elementary classrooms that exceed the state limit of 22 students has been sharply reduced over the past two years.

On Thursday, the HISD Board of Education will consider asking the Texas Education Agency to grant waivers for 755 elementary classrooms that have more than 22 students this school year. During the 2014-2015 school year, 1,499 HISD classrooms were over the limit, which applies to classes in kindergarten through the fourth grade.

Over the past two years, HISD has worked to bring more classrooms in compliance with the law. This fall, HISD opened the new Mark White Elementary School to relieve crowding in schools located on the district’s west side. Mark White Elementary’s construction was funded by the 2012 voter-approved bond program.

Also Thursday, the Board of Education will consider awarding construction contracts for two high schools also funded through the bond program. Located in northeast Houston, Barbara Jordan High School for Careers is transitioning from a career magnet school to a regional Career Hub, allowing students to spend half their day at their home school and the other half at Jordan participating in high-demand, career curriculum. The new facility will provide 600 to 800 students with access to real-world experiences in a variety of professions, including auto/diesel, audiovisual, cosmetology, culinary arts, construction management, marketing, STEM (electronics), and welding. Applications for the Barbara Jordan Career Hub currently are being accepted from 10th-grade students zoned to Northside, Furr, Kashmere, North Forest, Heights, Sam Houston, Washington, Wheatley, and Yates high schools. HISD is recommending the board award the contract to Cadence McShane Construction for an amount not to exceed $28 million. The new building is scheduled to be completed in time for the 2018-2019 school year.

Scarborough High School on the district’s northwest side is in line for major renovations and improvements that include a new 13,000-square-foot JROTC building; classroom renovations and technology upgrades; improvements to athletics fields and a tennis court; and a new secure welcome center that will become the focal point at the front of the campus. The school offers industry certifications before graduation in retail management, HVAC maintenance/repair, or computer administration and networking. Students also can prepare for careers in the military through its army branch of the JROTC, a very popular program on the campus. About one-third of the current student population participates in JROTC. HISD is recommending the board award the contract to DT Construction for an amount not to exceed $9.8 million. Construction is expected to be completed in time for the 2017-2018 school year.

The board’s regular monthly meeting begins at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016, in the board auditorium of the Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center, 4400 W. 18th Street. Click here to view the full agenda. The board meeting will be broadcast live online at www.hisdtv.org and on the HISD Channel, which can be found on Comcast Channel 18 or AT&T U-verse Channel 99.