The Huntsville Item, Huntsville, TX


December 9, 2013

Huntsville ISD offers campus facility tours

HUNTSVILLE — Citizens at a community forum Monday night said they wanted to see for themselves the facility needs at Huntsville schools.

HISD trustees and administrators held the forum at Mance Park Middle School, a campus that would have been replaced had the $65 million bond package passed in the May election.

After presentations on facility deficiencies from trustees, Superintendent Dr. Johnson and various input from citizens, Chris Edwards said he didn’t believe the deficiencies were explained well enough.

“There’s kind of a disconnect,” Edwards said. “What’s the real problem?”

For starters, district officials say there is not enough space at Mance Park for student group work, an outdated cafeteria and kitchen facility from the 1960s that makes it difficult to serve students, while athletic locker rooms and the band hall are also in poor condition.

To use the restroom while attending a Mance Park football game, people have to cross the street from the field.

Most of the Gibbs Pre-K Center being used was built in 1959. Scott Johnson Elementary was built in 1962 and hasn’t seen renovations since 1985. Neither campus, according to district administrators is cost effective from an operations standpoint.  

“We’ve talked about offering tours of the buildings in question,” board member Dr. Karin Olson-Williams said. “That’s been a part of the plan, to open up the schools so we can all take a look at it.”

The district is also collecting responses through an online community survey on why the previous bond failed and options for possible solutions. The link can be accessed at, or on the district’s website, Facebook and Twitter pages.

The survey will remain open through the second week of January, according to HISD Director of Communications Shannon Duncan.

“The current condition of our facilities and identified needs is obviously a school district concern, but a community one as well,” Duncan said. “We request your help in sharing this awareness campaign of sorts to inform the citizens that the district encourages everyone to participate by completing our survey.”

“We’re at the point where we need to see what we can do,” board member Sam Moak said. “The school district needs help. We’ve got old facilities and we’ve got to do something. But we’re in a unique community where we may only be able to do what we can afford to do. We need you to help tell us, what are your priorities? Our kids certainly deserve more and in a perfect world, we would do it all.”

Another community forum is scheduled Jan. 13 at Scott Johnson Elementary.

HISD will conduct a staff survey in early January. At the regularly scheduled board meeting Jan. 16, bond committee members will be finalized.

The committee’s first meeting is scheduled for Jan. 23 at Huntsville High School, when the district will share the needs identified by last year’s planning committee, review the community survey and set a timeframe for future work.

They will consider bond options at the second meeting, Feb. 3 at Gibbs Pre-K Center. A third meeting is scheduled for Feb. 10 at Huntsville Intermediate School, where the committee plans to formulate a recommendation to the Board of Trustees.

The board will host a workshop at the Hawkins Administration Building on Feb. 17. An election could be called as early as Feb. 20, but possibly Feb. 25.

Johnson and trustees are expected to conduct presentations within the district following the call for the election.

“I’ll take you to see everything,” Johnson said. “We’ll go over here to this field where there’s no restroom facility. I’ll take you the locker room. I’ll take you to those buildings and this dungeon where our kids dress out for volleyball. I’ll take you.”

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Camp Good News will take place at Camp Allen in Navasota from June 8-13. It is free for girls and boys ages 10 to 15 who has an incarcerated parent. Camp director Ed Davis, a Huntsville native, is hoping to provide kids with an uplifting week of spiritual and physical activities.

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