The Fort Bend ISD board of trustees approved Monday a list of proposals for the district’s Facilities Master Plan, supporting new construction, expansions and rebuilds at various campuses.
It is the board’s intent to consider these projects as district administrators develop a possible 2018 bond program, said Amanda Bubela, FBISD director of external communications and media relations.
Trustees also unanimously voted to appoint trustee Jason Burdine as the new board president for 2018-19.
1) Facilities planning
The school board authorized the construction of multiple new schools, expansions at existing ones and the rebuilding of Lakeview and Meadows elementary schools.
The total estimated cost of approved projects is approximately $362.5 million—not including alternative options, according to FBISD data.
“We have refocused our efforts to address building utilization while still developing innovations and instruction that prepare our students for a future beyond our system,” FBISD Superintendent Charles Dupre said.
The board approved classroom additions for Neill and Madden elementary schools and Fort Settlement Middle School. Trustees also decided to expand design plans for soon-to-be-constructed Elementary School 51, so it may accommodate more students in the Aliana community.
The board also approved to rebuild Lakeview and Meadows, providing that displaced students will attend Barrington Place, which will not be repurposed for district use. All three schools have been the focus of many residents who consider them integral parts of each community.
“It concerns me a great deal when we talk about closing schools or repurposing schools,” Board President Kristin Tassin said. “We have to balance [the budget]with the emotions of the community and with what’s best for kids.”
The board also voted to pursue land acquisition options for the construction of a new elementary school in Riverstone. However, if land is unavailable, classroom additions will be constructed at Commonwealth, Austin Parkway and Settlers Way elementary schools.
“We’re really relying on the bond for a new school, and we’re really relying on the bond for additions,” Tassin said.
Other future capital investments include three new elementary schools and one new middle school to contain over-population issues.
Trustees also directed staff to include an unspecified amount of funds in the potential 2018 bond proposal to purchase land for a potential new high school in Sienna Plantation as Ridge Point faces over utilization by 2022-23.
The board voted in support of reevaluating school boundaries to balance enrollment as an immediate answer. Administrators are to study the merits of a flexible scheduling option as a longer-term solution.
Trustee Dave Rosenthal proposed establishing a ninth-grade center, however he faced opposition from trustee Kristin Tassin, who questioned the logistics of extracurricular activities and transportation.
“That sounds like a complete upheaval, to me, of the community,” Tassin said.
FBISD administrators were also instructed to provide additional information related to innovative programming as an option balance enrollment and improve student achievement.
“The goal of the administration has remained constant: To ensure that we’re doing everything we can to provide the very best learning environments for our students while utilizing our facility as efficiently as possible,” Dupre said.
2) Board appointments
Trustee Jason Burdine was selected to serve as the new board president, replacing Kristin Tassin.
“It’s an honor to serve after [Tassin],” Burdine said. “I have very big shoes to fill. This is a big job. There’s a lot of things involved that no one would ever know from the outside.”
Board officers are re-elected each year after trustee elections, Bubela said. Any member can be elected board president as long as they have served at least two years on the board.
Trustees Addie Heyliger and Dave Rosenthal were appointed as the board’s vice president and secretary, respectively.
3) Budget planning
The school board called for a public budget meeting to take place at 5:30 p.m. on June 11 in the FBISD Administration Building Board Room.
Trustees proposed to set the overall 2018 tax rate—as it is currently—$1.32 per $100 taxable value with $1.06 to be allocated for FBISD’s maintenance and operations and $0.26 for debt service.
In addition to the fiscal year 2018-19 budget, other future agenda items to be discussed in June include the district’s safety and security plan and 2018 bond planning updates.