Houston ISD Begins Rolling Out $2 Billion Bond Program

Architect Steven Bingler is helping Houston Independent School District imagine the next generation of schools.

He thinks schools are all about community, with students, parents and teachers working together – like a flock of birds.

To emphasize his point, he plays a video of birds swarming in the sky at a community forum in South Houston.

"When you see birds swarm, there [are] no birds saying go left, now go right. They dance, and everybody's doing the dance together. All those birds are connecting to each other at every moment of that little dance that they're doing, that ballet that they're doing. I think that's the metaphor that we need to be thinking about."

Bingler says now's the time for architects and residents to work together on the bond. They have to figure out what is a school in the 21st century.

Sue Robertson manages facility planning for HISD. She says there's no one answer, but there are some general themes.

"Twenty-first century learning is highly collaborative. Twenty-first century learning is very flexible. Twenty-first century learning is not about sitting in one seat and being talked to all day. It's hands-on, minds-on learning."

Robertson says the forum is just the start of the design process.

"So it starts from teaching and learning, and what does that mean. And it will eventually evolve into floor plans and a constructed space. So we're at the beginning of the continuum.”

Senior Jessica Haroldson has some ideas for her school, North Houston Early College.

"I would like our school to have a college access room, you know. Currently it's just a small office. I think it would really be nice to have a big room, you know, like lounge kind-of style where we can go and talk about our plans for the future.”

Her school is cramped because there's no real building.

"Our school is - to be honest - is just trailers. Our cafeteria is our cafeteria, our gym and our choir room.”

Haroldson's school will get a new campus from the bond program.

The HISD board has already approved eight contracts for several projects, including North Houston Early College.

The board will look at the next round of contracts at its meeting this week.

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