Community asked to take the lead on FBISD zoning and facilities decisions
By Betsy Dolan
A massive undertaking by Fort Bend ISD to help stabilize some of the district’s more contentious topics –school boundaries and overcrowding –will involve extensive community involvement starting next month.
The district is asking the community to help establish a five year plan for elementary school boundaries; a five year facilities master plan; and a five year district strategic plan.
“I have heard from the community that the zoning process has not been done in a way that is transparent, collaborative or well-timed”, said Fort Bend ISD Superintendent Charles Dupre. “It is also my understanding that the boundary process has affected board elections substantially.”
In June, the Board of Trustees voted to postpone the construction of elementary school #46 in Aliana in order to give the district time to conduct a thorough inventory of the district’s schools and facilities and to map out a long range plan for elementary school boundaries.
A time line of the process was presented to the Board of Trustees August 12. Educational consultants DeJong-Richter will help facilitate the community discussions which will start in the fall on the facilities master plan and the strategic plan. The elementary school boundary issue will be taken up in the early spring.
Dupre acknowledged that it is not ideal to discuss boundary changes during the spring semester but said the issue is impacted by the results of the facilities master plan, being conducted by Jacobs Engineering.
“The main outcome of (Jacobs) work is to determine which schools the community will support for new boundaries,” Dupre said. “It would create conflict and confusion to run a boundary study in the fall when Jacobs is still doing their work.”
The $1.7 million dollar facilities master plan will provide the district with an in depth look at the condition of the district’s schools–everything from HVAC units, to classroom square footage, to technology inadequacies. In addition, Jacobs will provide an accurate space inventory of every school using a special software program that the district can utilize long term.
According to Fort Bend ISD spokeswoman Nancy Porter, community stakeholders will have an opportunity to serve on steering committees, participate in several community forums and take an online survey.
The district hopes to approve the five year facilities master plan and the district’s strategic plan February 10 with the school boundary issue approved in early April.
“This is unlike anything we’ve undertaken in this district before,” Charles Dupre, Fort Bend ISD Superintendent said. “Our hope is that the community will be so engaged in the process they will buy into the outcome and feel good about a long term solution.”
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