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Aiming to attract magnets

HISD has applied for a $12 million federal grant to create as many as eight new magnet schools.

HISD’s application, which is due to the U.S. Department of Education on March 1, would create science, technology, engineering and math programs at Ryan Middle, M.C. Williams Middle, Kashmere High, Furr High and the South Early College High School in HISD and a yet-to-be-named middle school in North Forest, if the Texas Education Agency moves forward with a plan to merge the two districts.

This earlier story from before the vote has more details.

All the programs would focus on science, technology, engineering and math, subject areas that the U.S. Department of Education will favor in this year’s application process.

“It’s unprecedented,” Superintendent Terry Grier said of the focus on math and science. “This is something that’s really being pushed from the White House.”

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Ryan Middle School, a campus that has historically struggled, could be converted into the HISD Middle School for Health Professions, a feeder into the prestigious DeBakey High School.

An early college high school would also open in the North Forest area, pending the merger, to allow students to earn high school and college credits simultaneously.

The stories mention six schools by name. A seventh would be a new magnet high school aimed at energy professions, something Superintendent Grier proposed a couple of weeks ago. A middle school arts magnet was also proposed.

Terry Grier

The arts middle school likely would move into a spruced-up version of the HSPVA campus in Montrose, he said. The $1.9 billion bond package HISD voters approved in November included about $80 million to relocate HSPVA to the downtown theater district. Construction of that new campus could take 18 months to two years.

No location has been identified for the new energy magnet school. HISD plans to meet with possible corporate and nonprofit partners to begin developing the curriculum and campus, Grier said. He expects it to be a campus of 500-800 students, much like DeBakey and HSPVA.

Industry leaders said they are excited to start talks with HISD.

“This high school would be highly beneficial to the energy industry, as we know there’s a great need for workers going forward,” said Joni Baird, a public affairs manager for Chevron. “We need to have our students prepared to be our future workforce.”

It’s not clear to me if the new arts magnet middle school is part of HISD’s grant application or if there’s some other school in the mix. If HISD doesn’t get the grant they’ll reconsider their options. There’s still a lot of work to be done to better organize HISD’s existing magnet schools, but this is a potentially very exciting development.

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2 Comments

  1. matx says:

    FYI Terry Grier: Houston already has a middle school arts magnet, Johnston Middle School, which in 2010 was the only area middle school to win a US Dept. of Education Blue Ribbon School. It’s a great school, but maybe since it’s not “centrally located” because it’s in the Willowbend area and it also serves the neighborhood students, not exclusively magnet students, it doesn’t count in Grier’s world.

  2. tom says:

    I just hope that it is planned better than the current HiLZ program. HISD jumped into this wihtout any plans and now is blaming HCC for the poor performace. When in fact HISD has dropped the ball. There is little or no funding for the campuses – ex. the coordinators are not even paid for the extra work. Can the same be said for the HISD adminstrators who are supposedly managing the program. Very little in the way of equipmetn has been purchased, yet we claim to be preparing students for the workforce.

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