An upcoming Missouri City City Council meeting will determine the fate of a KIPP Texas school proposal to be built in an industrial area of the city.
Knowledge is Power Program, known as KIPP, was founded in Houston in 1994 by Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin. They developed KIPP as a charter school educating low-income students, and it has grown to more than 27,700 students in 52 schools across Texas.
Eric Kot, lead operations for KIPP Texas, discussed the proposal with the Missouri City Planning and Zoning Commission on April 10. He said KIPP would like to build the school on a 18.31-acre tract of land that was formerly the Global Geophysical campus at 13927 S. Gessner Road at Industrial Drive.
KIPP’s application asked the commission to amend existing planning development regulations to allow the school to be built in an industrial area, according to documents submitted to the commission.
Missouri City staff recommended the commission not approve the site for school use citing that this intention would not help the city's goal to shift from a bedroom community, nor would it encourage businesses to locate within that area, Planning Manager Jennifer Thomas Gomez said at the meeting.
“An industrial campus is already developed there, so it is a prime opportunity for the city to encourage non-residential tax-based uses,” she said. “We are not anti-education, but it would not be the best location for that type of use.”
Kot told Community Impact Newspaper that Global Geophysical had not been using that site for three years, and KIPP had a solution to use that location.
The plan is to build out a prekindergarten through 12th-grade school in the space, which would be different than some of its other nearby campuses that educate just elementary and middle school grades. He expected the school to hold roughly 1,800 students when fully enrolled. KIPP said it has identified 160 families living in Missouri City that already attend other schools in its network that would like to attend a KIPP school closer to home.
“I wholeheartedly disagree with the recommendation,” Kot said. “Based on the 12,000 students on our waiting list, we need this school for 2020.”
The commission expressed concerns about the school being in that area, including underutilized Fort Bend ISD schools nearby, and the city’s liability in the event something occurred in the industrial area, such as a fire.
In addition, there was concern for traffic along Industrial, which often backs up in the early morning with trucks waiting to purchase supplies from Living Earth, Commissioner John O’Malley said. That may impede buses and parents dropping off and picking up students, he said.
Kot told the commission that KIPP has developed schools in these types of areas, including the one along Hwy. 6 in a former spa manufacturer space. KIPP is also doing a traffic study to determine feasibility and expects to receive the results at the end of April, he said.
Ultimately, the proposal was not favorably recommended to City Council, which will look at the proposal at a future meeting and could vote to allow the school to be built. The next Missouri City City Council meeting will take place May 6 at 7 p.m.
Meanwhile, Kot said he listened to what the commission said and plans to address many of those concerns when he goes in front of the council.
“We love the site and would love to be in this area,” Kot said.