At its April 24 meeting, the Huffman ISD Board of Trustees approved the zoning boundaries once the district’s second school is completed.

Bids for construction of the new school are scheduled to be received in May; it is planned to open in August 2018. The boundaries selected are the result of a long and arduous process by the district, including the creation of a zoning committee to insure all relevant issues were considered. The final plan was approved by a majority of four of the trustees. Two voted for the second of the two choices recommended by the zoning committee and one trustee was absent.

District Superintendent Dr. Benny Soileau said, “To begin the zoning decision-making process, administration worked with Geoff Tonini [demographer] to divide the district into cells along natural boundaries. Eight years of data were used to begin the process. The goal was to create two elementary schools which were similar in as many ways as possible. Categories such as student economic, ethnic, academic and geographic information were considered when narrowing the choices. Eight maps were presented to the zoning committee for consideration. On March 7, the committee narrowed the choices to four maps. The chosen maps were placed on our district website for public comment for two weeks. The comments were given to the committee for consideration on March 21. The committee narrowed the choices to two maps to be presented to the board of trustees.”

The new school will be at the southwest corner of the intersection of FM 2100 and Wolf Road, just past the Huffman Cemetery. The two recommended zoning maps, Scenario 2 and Scenario 7, were nearly the same in terms of the number of students in each school and their various demographic and academic measurements based on the current student population at Copeland Elementary. The difference in the two maps is in the specific geographic boundaries. Scenario 2 appears to divide the two zones in a more pronounced north/south division, while Scenario 7 reflects a more pronounced east/west division. In Scenario 2 the new elementary school is located right on the edge of a zone division, while in Scenario 7 it is surrounded on all sides by the zone from which its students will come. 

Just before the vote, Soileau took the time to thank and congratulate those members of the zoning committee who were present at the meeting for the hard work and thorough research they had put into the project. Trustee Matt Dutton stated his concern about the difficulty of making choices that were sure to displease some parents no matter which way the vote went. He said, “My vote tonight is based on the fact that I don’t want to split a subdivision. I don’t like kids from one block going to one school and kids from another block going to another school, regardless of which school it is.”

When the vote was taken, Scenario 7 was selected. It is the option with the new school located well within the border of its zone but with the zoning boundary running through at least one subdivision rather than around it. Scenario 7 was selected by a vote of four to two with one trustee, Dean Tinnen, absent. The two trustees voting for the other scenario were Dutton and Ray Burt.

In other business, the board approved a $6.6 million bid from DT Construction of Humble for the bond-funded additions and renovations at Ben Bowen Early Childhood Center, Copeland Elementary School and Huffman Middle School. DK Haney Roofing’s bid of $1 million was also approved to re-roof all of those buildings.

During the discussion leading to approval of the DT Construction bid, Tom Trial, the consultant managing the bidding process on behalf of the board, recommended delay of the approval for related work on the Hargrove High School art room and associated additions and improvements until the bidding for the new elementary school is finalized in May and the total cost of that project is known to ensure not exceeding the total funds approved in the bond issue by the voters. 

He said, “The art room and additions represent $1.2 million, which gives us a cushion like an insurance policy. You have it but you hope you never have to use it.” 

Once the elementary school contracts are approved in May, the board is expected to approve the art room and associated additions at Hargrave High School.

The next board of trustees meeting will be Monday, May 22 at 7 p.m. in the boardroom of the Huffman ISD Administration Building, 24302 FM 2100.

 

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Bruce Olson
Author: Bruce OlsonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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I have been married since 1970 to Kerry, my best friend and a great Australian woman. I served and survived Vietnam in the U.S. Air Force. I fought forest fires in the summer while in college, where I earned a B.A. in economics from Oklahoma State University and an M.B.A. from the University of Texas. I retired from Continental Airlines. I have a son and two granddaughters in Kingwood, and a daughter and two grandsons on a farm near Mazabuka, Zambia. I am now enjoying life as a grandfather, Tribune correspondent and Humble ISD guest teacher when not traveling to Zambia or Australia.