FBISD gives reins to community as facilities & zoning work begins

By Betsy Dolan 

Approximately 50 volunteers have been chosen to lead the charge in a mammoth undertaking to craft a five year plan for the way the district uses its facilities, handles elementary school zoning issues and plans for the future. The volunteers were chosen from a pool of 200 attendees from the Educational Futures Conference held September 18 and represent the geographic diversity of the district.

The steering committee will hold six meetings between now and the end of January creating a Facilities Master Plan and the District Strategic Plan. The board will vote on the two plans in February. The elementary school boundary plan discussions will begin in mid-February.

The district’s timeline calls for several opportunities for community input. Four community dialogue meetings will be held on the Facilities Master Plan and the District Strategic Plan. Two additional community dialogue meetings will be held in February on the elementary boundary changes. In addition, a comprehensive web survey will be available the first two weeks In December.

“This is not driven by the superintendent or the school board,” said Tracy Richter, CEO of DeJong-Richter, the educational consultants hired by Fort Bend ISD to oversee the process. “No one is in the back room making the decisions. This process is truly intended to be community driven.”

Back 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.

The district hired Jacobs Engineering to conduct a $1.7 million dollar facilities assessment that will examine 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.

The five year plans for facilities, zoning and the district’s strategy are part of a bigger goal for Fort Bend ISD–to have no achievement gaps and a 100% graduation rate by 2025.

“It’s one audacious goal but that is our mind set in 12 short years,” said Richter. “That kindergartner in FBISD is going to graduate–no question.”

Community members who wish to participate in the facilities master plan and district strategic plan discussions can attend two community dialogue meetings this month. The first is October 29 from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. at Elkins High School. The second meeting is October 30 from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. at Travis High School.

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