Community-based committee gets to work on FBISD facilities master plan

By Betsy Dolan

When Fort Bend ISD decided to let the community take the lead in developing a new vision for the district, they had hoped to get 40 volunteers to serve on a steering committee.  Instead, 102 volunteers stepped forward.

That group, made up of community stakeholders like parents, teachers and community leaders is charged with developing a five year district strategic plan and a five-year facilities master plan by February and a new elementary boundary map in May.

The steering committee members were among 200 attendees at the Educational Futures Conference held September 18.

The committee had their first meeting October 7 where the large group was split into three sub-committees based on the district’s geographic planning areas. The groups discussed their concerns to their planning area and developed a list of expectations for Fort Bend ISD graduates–what they should know and what they should be able to do when they leave the district.

Fort Bend ISD has set expectations high–to have no achievement gaps and a 100% graduation rate by 2025.

“It was interesting to hear the people in our own community engage in that dialogue. They get it,” said Fort Bend ISD Superintendent Charles Dupre.  “They understand what we need our students to look like.”

The steering committee is preparing for two Community Dialogue meetings scheduled for October 29 and 30.  Feedback from the meetings will be used to set the parameters for planning and to develop the recommendations that will be presented to the Board of Trustees in February.

“Feedback is considered vital in determining the community’s current support for a variety of initiatives and facility options,” said Beth Martinez, Fort Bend ISD’s Executive Director of Organizational Development.

Steering committee members have been given a large quantity of district data from demographics, population growth, socio-economic issues, STAAR results and graduation rates.  All of the data is available on the district’s website for the public to review.  Committee members were told to review the data, ask questions and provide feedback and they are doing that, said Martinez.

“We’re asking the steering committee to not just accept the data that is being presented but to poke holes in it, to challenge it,” said Dupre.  “We want to build credibility with the data by allowing people to question it.”

The district’s timeline calls for several opportunities for community input. In addition to the two community dialogue meetings in October. two others will be held in December. Two community dialogue meetings will be held on the elementary boundary changes in February. In addition, a comprehensive web survey will be available the first two weeks In December.

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 conduct a thorough examination of every district building.

The Community Dialogue meeting on October 29 will be at Elkins High School.  The second meeting will be on October 30 at Travis High School.  Both meetings start at 7 p.m.

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