Last November the Humble ISD Board of Trustees officially approved an option among the four seriously evaluated to rebuild Kingwood High School (KHS) on its original location with some significant flood-related modifications. The target date to reopen the school was ambitiously set for March 19.
On March 19, KHS opened as scheduled to serve the Kingwood community and resume the business of education for its 3,000 students and faculty. The next night at the March district board meeting, Dr. Elizabeth Fagen, Humble ISD’s superintendent of schools, called it “… a near miracle.”
“This has been an extraordinary year for our entire school district and community. Everybody has experienced it in a different way and it’s been phenomenal to see this Humble ISD family come together and support each other in the way that the entire community has, from supporting businesses that reopened to supporting friends and family who have homes that had to be gutted and needed a place to stay, to delivering food and all those things we experienced together,” Fagen said.
Fagen pointed out the many challenges not only of rebuilding the school, but of the many others along the way. She highlighted the patience that all the affected families in both Kingwood and the Summer Creek areas put into the Kingwood-Summer Creek experience to make it work so successfully. She pointed out the challenges to the district’s transportation department, the Humble ISD police, and the Houston and Humble police departments working to make sure traffic issues were met from moving so many students so far every day of the week.
Fagen especially highlighted the building planning people who started out the school year in September with plans for building an elementary school and other routine projects and instead were suddenly challenged with rebuilding three major buildings, including a large high school.
She praised the financial offices with their well-proven advance financial planning during the crisis and over previous years. Those efforts are enabling money to start flowing and the district is working well with FEMA. As a result, the district will be getting insurance and FEMA checks sooner rather than waiting up to 10 years as has happened with other disaster areas.
“There are so many people; I can’t even go through it all and name all who contributed to our ability to start a project at the very end of August that is 520,000 square feet that had the most disgusting water I have ever seen in my life throughout it and turn that building around and bring about 3,000 students and staff back in about six months. I just want to take a minute to say it was an absolute team effort from police escorts for buses to our public communications group,” Fagen said. Each member of the board in their formal comments echoed those same accolades to all those who had helped make it happen.
In addition to recognizing the recovery at KHS, the district highlighted a number of students and their teachers for a long list of fine arts accomplishments. Plaques highlighting those accomplishments were presented to five students and their teachers as part of the Youth Art Month activities taking place during March and 10 students who received winning medals or special merit recognition in the recent Humble Rodeo Art competition.
The board recognized its two top District Spelling Bee winners, Champion Ian Robertson of Creekwood Middle School and Runner-Up Joshua Chaco of Woodcreek Middle School. They will represent Humble ISD in the upcoming Houston Public Spelling Bee on April 7 and will advance to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. if they win.
The board also recognized Humble High School senior Eloni Sowell for winning the State District 5A wrestling championship for her weight class. This was a first-time accomplishment in Humble ISD history. Assistant Director of Athletics Jana Williams summed up the magnitude of Sowell’s achievement.
“Eloni is a three-letter winner on the wrestling team, taking 5th in state last year before winning the gold medal this year. In her senior campaign she only had one loss. She is the back-to-back district champion and Region Three runner-up for two consecutive years. She won the UIL gold medal at the state wrestling tournament on Feb. 24. Eloni is our first state championship wrestler, male or female, in Humble ISD,” said Williams.
In other board business:
Approved electronic bidding software.
Ratified and approved an application for a FEMA Public Assistance Alternative Procedures Pilot Program which should greatly speed up the processing to receive FEMA disaster relief monies.
Approved the purchase of wireless equipment and services from Micro Integrations.
Authorized natatorium air conditioning replacements at Kingwood Park High School and Atascocita High School.
Agreed to enter into an inter-local agreement with Galena Park ISD to train and qualify bus driver certification until such time as Humble implements its own program. This will allow the district to avoid Texas Department of Public Safety backlogs currently running from four to six weeks when bus drivers are needed almost immediately.
Robert Sitton made a closing remark to call attention to the fact that in 11 months Humble ISD will be celebrating its 100th anniversary.
“We have been granted a Texas Historical Marker commemorating our 100 years of existence. The City of Humble has agreed to allow us to put it on the Bender Building property to commemorate where it all started,” Sitton said.
School board meetings are normally held at 7 p.m. the second Tuesday of each month at the Humble ISD Administration Building, 20200 Eastway Village Dr., and are open to the public. Agendas are posted on the district website, humbleisd.net.