Spring - Klein Edition | April 2021

SPRING KLEIN EDITION

VOLUME 8, ISSUE 1  APRIL 17MAY 14, 2021

ONLINE AT

Struggling against the COVID19 slide Lack of data, direction creates uphill climb for Spring, Klein school districts

BEHIND FALLING Local school districts have tried to assess student achievement throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Data shows more students are performing below grade level than before the pandemic. Percentage of students who performed below grade level

BY ANDY LI

Spring- and Klein-area school districts have begun planning for the 2021-22 school year, and educators said they are focusing on addressing students’ loss of learning due to the coronavirus pandemic. Klein, Spring and Cy-Fair ISDs are all tackling what they call the “COVID-19 slide,” the loss of student achievement specic to the pandemic, among their student populations. Data from the districts shows in some subjects, more than 10% of students regressed between the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years. “This school year has been lled with many challenges, and like every school district, these challenges have impacted student achievement,” KISD Chief Academic Ocer Amy Miller said in an email. “Our educators are working hard to close achievement gaps of any student who is struggling or seeing a decline in their performance.” But district ocials said this is not just a local issue. Texas students have lost more than three months of instructional time due to pandemic-related closures—not

IMPACTS

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Elementary school

2019-20

2020-21 in person

2020-21 remote

Spring ISD

36% 47%

43%

34% N/A*

Klein ISD

40%

Middle school

2019-20

2020-21 in person

2020-21 remote

HOMELESSNESS

9

Spring ISD

43%

46%

36% N/A*

Klein ISD

51%

43%

Funding stalls for stormwater detention basins

Secondary students** Cy-Fair ISD

2019-20

2020-21 in person

2020-21 remote

16% 36% *KISD DID NOT INCLUDE STUDENT PERFORMANCE BY INPERSON VERSUS REMOTE INSTRUCTION. **CFISD DATA REPRESENTS ALL MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS FAILING ONE OR MORE CLASS. 18% SOURCES: SPRING ISD, CYFAIR ISD, KLEIN ISDCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

CONTINUED ON 14

FLOOD CONTROL

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County ofcials take aimat rise in violent crime

Murders in 2019 Violent crime, including murders, is up in Harris County, but data from large U.S. cities shows similar increases. Murders in 2020 (preliminary) A national trend

BY SHAWN ARRAJJ

+55.35%

A rise in violent crime in Harris County has local ocials urgently seeking solutions to combat the trend. However, a debate over the origins of the spike—including 41% and 28% year-over-year increases in murders in the city of Houston and unincorporated Harris County, respectively—has sparked questions of what is to blame and what should be done. CONTINUED ON 16

PET FLY TRAP

12

+41.35%

+24.81%

+27.84%

+24.14%

Chicago

Dallas

Los Angeles

City of Houston

Harris County (unincorporated)

SOURCES: HARRIS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE, CITY OF HOUSTON, DALLAS POLICE DEPARTMENT, LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENTCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

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SPRING - KLEIN EDITION • APRIL 2021

THIS ISSUE

ABOUT US

Owners John and Jennifer Garrett launched the rst edition of Community Impact Newspaper in 2005 with three full-time employees covering Round Rock and Pugerville, Texas. We have expanded our operations to include hundreds of employees, our own printing operation and over 30 hyperlocal editions across three states. Our circulation is over 2 million residential mailboxes, and it grows each month with new residents and developments.

HIGHLIGHTS FROMTHISMONTH

FROMKIM: As the 2020-21 school year comes to a close, students, teachers and parents have had to adjust to a dierent learning environment. Education leaders have looked at the academic achievement of students and termed a loss of learning as the “COVID-19 slide.” Our front-page story dives into how students have performed in person and remotely this year versus the previous year. Kim Giannetti, GENERALMANAGER

Community Impact Newspaper teams include general managers, editors, reporters, graphic designers, sales account executives and sales support, all immersed and invested in the communities they serve. Our mission is to build communities of informed citizens and thriving businesses through the collaboration of a passionate team. Our core values are Faith, Passion, Quality, Innovation and Integrity.

FROMKELLY: One of the front-page stories this month looks at the rise of violent crimes in Harris County—including the Spring and Klein area—during the coronavirus pandemic. Some law enforcement ocials in Harris County have pointed to the county’s bail bond practices as a contributing factor to violent crimes increasing countywide. However, data shows crime also increased in other large metropolitan areas and counties that did not implement the reform. Kelly Schaer, EDITOR

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SPRING  KLEIN EDITION • APRIL 2021

IMPACTS

BY ANDY LI, DANICA LLOYD, ADRIANA REZAL, BEN THOMPSON & HANNAH ZEDAKER

Businesses that have recently opened or are coming soon, relocating or expanding

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Bimbimbox

The Centrum

BIRNHAM WOODS DR.

COURTESY BIMBIMBOX

HANNAH ZEDAKER/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

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4 Bimbimbox hosted a grand opening April 10 at 10111 Louetta Road, Ste. 800, Houston. The Asian grill and tea bar allows patrons to create their own Bimbimbox with their choice of savory grilled meats, hearty vegetables and homemade sauces. Freshly brewed loose-leaf teas topped with boba are also available. 281-789-0803. www.bimbimbox.com 5 New England-based Wing It On opened its first Texas location March 11 at 7316 Louetta Road, Ste. B303, Spring. Known for its 18 signature sauces and six dry rubs for its classic-style wings, boneless tenders and thigh wings, the franchise also serves sandwiches, salads, sides and fries. 832-698-2415. www.wingiton.com 6 Swamp Donkeys Crawfish and Seafood celebrated its grand opening March 13 at 25811 W. Hardy Road, Spring. The food truck is at the Track Shack Ice House and is the second location for the Kingwood-based business. It specializes in selling live and boiled crawfish, shrimp and crab as well as its signature seasoning blend. 346-318-3708 (boiled sales), 281-813-7500 (live sales). www.swampdonkeyscrawfish.com GEARS RD. 7 Karma Kolache celebrated its grand opening March 6 at 10211 Cypresswood Drive, Ste. 100, Houston. Kolache flavors range from cheeseburger and smoked brisket to boudin and pepperoni pizza. Cinnamon rolls, apple fritters, cake doughnuts, breakfast sandwiches and coffee drinks are also on the menu. 832-604-6670. www.karmatastesgood.com 45

8 Painted Tree Marketplace opened Feb. 4 at 5407 FM 1960 W., Houston. The marketplace showcases hundreds of local shop owners, boutiques, decorators, artisans and crafters, and hosts various workshops. 281-721-4217. www.paintedtreemarketplace.com 9 Kiddie Academy of Cypresswood opened in late January at 13909 Mandolin Drive, Houston. The educational child care facility promotes intellectual, social, physical and emotional growth and will serve 187 students ages 3-12, officials said. 346-388-6600. www.kiddieacademy.com 10 The newest location of Ogle School opened Feb. 22 at 12974 Willow Chase Drive, Ste. A, Houston. Ogle School prepares students for careers in the beauty industry with full- and part-time class schedules. Financial aid is available for qualified individuals. Hair, skin and nail services performed by students and supervised by licensed professionals are available to the public. Due to COVID-19, appointments are required and limited. 713-487-2060 (client services). 11 Blended Paradise Energy & Nutrition will open in late April at 16716 Stuebner Airline Road, Spring. The new business will offer a variety of fat-burning energy teas and protein smoothies. 346-808-7300. www.facebook.com/blendedparadisetx 12 Construction began in March on The Holcomb Family YMCA at 5201 Imperial Promenade Drive, Spring. www.ogleschool.edu COMING SOON

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NOWOPEN 1 Main Chick opened its second Greater Houston-area food truck at 16803 Stuebner Airline Road, Spring, on March 19. The food truck specializes in Nashville hot chicken, offering hot chicken tenders and sliders available in six heat levels. Sides such as mac and cheese, waffle fries and coleslaw are also available. 713-739-8898. www.facebook.com/main-chick- htx-109144654164275 2 Uncle’s BBQ celebrated its grand opening March 17 at 23211 Kuykendahl

Road, Ste. D, Tomball. Menu items range from barbecue sandwiches, burgers and hot dogs to tacos and empanadas. Traditional barbecue sides, such as mac and cheese and potato salad, are available as well as desserts. 346-298-9955. www.unclestxbbq.com 3 Viva Jalisco Taqueria & Restaurant opened at 10800 Spring Cypress Road, Ste. 100, Tomball, on March 24. The taqueria specializes in authentic Mexican fare such as fajitas, carnitas and carne guisada. 346-808-5886. www.vivajalisco4.com

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

Paul Friedman will open The Chef’s Table in Vintage Park in June.

COURTESY THE CHEF’S TABLE

FEATURED IMPACT COMING SOON Chef Paul Friedman, the founder and a former owner of Peli Peli, will be returning to Vintage Park this summer with a new concept, The Chef’s Table . According to Friedman, The Chef’s Table will open in June at 110 Vintage Park Blvd., Ste. P, Houston, and feature cuisine inspired by Friedman’s personal travels. The Chef’s Table will serve lunch and dinner daily as well as brunch on weekends. The new outdoor YMCA facility, located in the Falls at Imperial Oaks development in northern Spring, is anchored by a 12,000-square-foot pavilion with turf. The facility’s first phase is expected to be completed this fall and will also include an outdoor fitness center and multipurpose sports courts and fields. 281-360-2500. www.ymcahouston.org 13 The Centrum reopened its doors to the congregation of Cypress Creek Christian Church on April 4 for Easter Sunday. Located at 6823 Cypresswood Drive, Spring, the 897-seat facility could fully reopen to the public in May after closing for nearly four years due to damages sustained from Hurricane Harvey, church officials said. Upon completion, the venue will host graduation ceremonies, weddings, performing arts events and concerts, in addition to church services. 281-376-7121. www.centrumrevitalization.org 14 Amazon will open a delivery station at Northcrest Drive and Spring Stuebner Road in Spring in 2021. The station will bring about 300 full-time jobs paying $15 an hour as a starting wage. The station is one of four that will open in the Houston area during 2021. www.amazon.com RELOCATIONS 15 Masones Pub & Grill relocated April 1 from 13131 Louetta Road, Cypress, to 24441 Hwy. 249, Tomball, according to bartender Lauren Schwaeble. The eatery offers a selection of tacos, wings and flatbreads as well as a drink menu. 281-374-0163. www.facebook.com/masonespub 16 La Boucherie Cajun Meats —formerly located at 3323 FM 1960 W., Houston—

Friedman said the restaurant will feature both indoor and outdoor seating, a full bar and a retail store where Friedman will sell his spices and sauces as well as beer and wine. www.chefstablehouston.com

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celebrated the grand opening of its new location at 18908 Kuykendahl, Spring, on March 1. The new facility is four times larger than the business’s previous space and features retail and production areas and an expanded kitchen. La Boucherie offers a wide selection of Cajun favorites, from turducken and boudin to crawfish jambalaya and jalapeno cornbread. 281-583-8177. www.cajunmeats.com 17 The Popcorn Bag opened its new storefront March 19 at 9337 Spring Cypress Road, Ste. B2, Spring. Owned by Tim Voigt, the business—formerly located at 8701 Spring Cypress Road, Ste. F, Spring—first opened in December 2011 and specializes in gourmet popcorn, boasting more than 40 sweet and savory flavors that change seasonally. 281-251-8465. www.mypopcornbag.com 18 Language Arts Academy —formerly located at 5503 FM 2920, Spring—opened March 1 at 20423 Kuykendahl Road, Ste. 400, Spring. Owned by Gabriela De Coss, the early education center offers programs for children 2 months old to 6 years old, including full- and part-time day care, pre-K, bilingual kindergarten, Spanish and English immersion, mothers’ day out, and drop-in and after-school programs. 832-422-3105 or 832-458-2300. www.languageartsacademy.com 19 Mindful Transformations Spring Counseling Center is now open at 20008 Champion Forest Drive, Ste. 1003, Spring. Formerly located at 8900 Eastloch Drive, Ste. P, Spring, the private practice moved to its new location in January and offers counseling services to individuals, couples and groups for all ages. 281-892-9986. www.mtspringcounseling.com

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SPRING - KLEIN EDITION • APRIL 2021

TRANSPORTATIONUPDATES

COMPILED BY HANNAH ZEDAKER

Timeline: TBD Cost: TBD Funding source: Harris County Precinct 4 4 Spring Stuebner Road Segment E improvements Harris County Precinct 4 is studying a project to upgrade Spring Stuebner Road from west of Leitner Way Lane to the Grand Parkway as a four-lane concrete paved section with improved drainage and trac signals. Timeline: TBD Cost: TBD Funding source: Harris County Precinct 4 COMPLETED PROJECTS 5 Stuebner Airline Road, Oakwood Glen Boulevard intersection improvements Harris County Precinct 4 recently completed a project that installed pedestrian signals and Americans With Disabilities Act-accessible ramps and improved crosswalks at the intersection of Stuebner Airline Road and Oakwood Glen Boulevard. Construction began in February and was completed by April 1. Timeline: February-April 1 Cost: $65,064 Funding source: Harris County Precinct 4

on-site to complete outstanding work items for the next several weeks. Timeline: April 13, 2020-May 2021 Cost: $5.02 million Funding source: Harris County Precinct 4 UPCOMING PROJECTS 2 Gosling Road Segment 3 improvements Harris County Precinct 4 will upgrade the two-lane asphalt section of Gosling Road between West Rayford Road and Creekside Forest Drive to a four-lane concrete boulevard with improved drainage and trac signal installation and modication. The construction contract was awarded to Allgood Construction Funding source: Harris County Precinct 4 3 Mossy Oaks Road East improvements Harris County Precinct 4 is studying a project that will expand and extend Mossy Oaks Road East from just east of Mossy Oaks Road to 2,525 feet east of the current end of Mossy Oaks Road East. The extension will be a four-lane road with improved drainage and trac signal installation and modications. at the March 30 Harris County Commissioners Court meeting. Timeline: TBD Cost: $6.5 million

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ALL INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE WAS UPDATED AS OF APRIL 13. NEWS OR QUESTIONS ABOUT THESE OR OTHER LOCAL TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS? EMAIL US AT SKLNEWSCOMMUNITYIMPACT.COM.

incorporate a four-way intersection and close the railroad crossing at Caroline Street to accommodate a new crossing north of Riley Fuzzel. Ocials from Harris County Precinct 4’s Capital Improvement Projects Division said they are also evaluating additional drainage upgrades. While the road had opened to four lanes in early April, the contractor will remain

ONGOING PROJECTS 1 Riley Fuzzel Road expansion A project is under construction to expand Riley Fuzzel Road to ve lanes with improved drainage between Elm Street and the Hardy Toll Road. The project also will realign the road at West Hardy to

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

GOVERNMENT Greater Houston-area homeless population cites COVID19 as root cause

BY HANNAH ZEDAKER

Ana Rausch, vice president of programs for Coalition for the Homeless, said the pandemic played a signicant role in this year’s count. In addition to some homeless individuals being reluctant to stay in a shelter for fear of contracting COVID-19, Rausch said bed availability has also been cut signicantly to allow for social distancing in shelters. “So the lower sheltered numbers aren’t necessarily a positive development; if people are in need of services, we want them to have access to them,” said Mike Nichols, president and CEO for the coalition. Additionally, the recent launch of the Community COVID Housing Program also aected this year’s homeless count. The $65 million initiative by Harris County, the city of Houston and Coalition for the Homeless will provide permanent housing to 5,000 otherwise-homeless individuals over the next two years.

The 2021 Homeless Count & Survey results showed 3,055 individuals across Harris, Fort Bend and Montgomery counties were experiencing homelessness on Jan. 19, the night of record for this year’s count. MAKING THE COUNT

One in seven unsheltered individuals in the Greater Houston area attribute their homelessness to job loss or eviction as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, according to the results of the 2021 Homeless Count & Survey, which were released March 24. Of those who identied COVID-19 as a root cause of their homelessness, 45% said this was their rst time experiencing homelessness. Coalition for the Homeless and The Way Home conducted its annual point-in-time homeless count Jan. 19-29 to identify sheltered and unsheltered people experiencing homelessness across Harris, Fort Bend and Montgomery counties. Results showed 3,055 individuals were homeless in the tricounty area the night of Jan. 19—the night of record for this year’s count. Though not directly comparable, this is a 23% decrease from the 3,974 homeless individuals counted in 2020.

HOMELESS INDIVIDUALS

SELFREPORTED FACTORS

Sheltered: 1,545 Unsheltered: 1,510

15% Experienced domestic violence 28% Have a substance use disorder 38% Have serious mental illness Experiencing chronic homelessness 18%

Total: 3,055

COUNT BY COUNTY

Harris County: 2,893 Montgomery County: 102 Fort Bend County: 60

6% Veterans

COURTESY THE CKP GROUP

SOURCES: COALITION FOR THE HOMELESS, THE WAY HOMECOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

The plan was announced last summer and launched in October. According to Rausch, as of Jan. 19 nearly 800 individuals had been permanently housed through the CCHP; as of March 24, that number had doubled to 1,600. Overall, Rausch the two nonprot

organizations have housed more than 21,000 people across the tricounty area since 2012. These eorts combined with the ongoing eviction moratorium have likely contributed to the Greater Houston area’s overall decrease in homelessness year over year, she said.

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SPRING  KLEIN EDITION • APRIL 2021

ENVIRONMENT Federal funding not secured for TC Jester, Westador detention basins

A stall in anticipated federal funding has left Harris County Flood Control District officials unsure of how to secure $20 million for two flood-mitigation projects in the Spring and Klein area. The district has proposed two stormwater detention basins in the Cypress Creek watershed to reduce flooding risks in the area: one at the TC Jester Boulevard and Cypresswood Drive intersection and the other in the Westador neighborhood at the Ella Boulevard and Cypress Creek intersection. In October, the district submitted applications to the Texas General Land Office, asking for $10 million for each project with the rest being paid by the $2.5 billion flood infrastructure bond voters approved in August 2018. The district learned in March, however, that neither project was awarded grants. Despite this, HCFCD Director of Operations Alan Black said he hopes the GLO will award more funding in the future—as roughly $27 million has not been awarded from the 2015 and 2016 Community Development Block Grant Mitigation programs. “I’m hesitant to say the applications have been rejected. We just haven’t received notification as to whether or not we will get them awarded,” he said. In the meantime, the district will consider paying for the projects with its capital improvement projects fund and through other partnerships or grant programs, HCFCD Deputy Executive Director Matt Zeve said. Project design will continue BY SHAWN ARRAJJ & KELLY SCHAFLER

while the district seeks alternative funding, he said. A countywide deficit The two basins are part of a larger hurdle Harris County faces that involves finding about $1.4 billion for other flood bond projects. At the March 9 Harris County Commissioners Court meeting, the Harris County Budget Management Department presented data showing some watersheds in the eastern part of the county are less than 50% funded when it comes to the bond program. By comparison, the Cypress Creek Watershed is only 14% unfunded, per the data. The shortfall can largely be tied to a shift in how the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development allocated funding to the state, HCFCD officials said. Instead of giving the county and city of Houston direct allocations of $1 billion each in Hurricane Harvey relief funding, HUD sent money to the GLO to be made available through competitive grants. At the March 9 meeting, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo asked why the district was relying on federal money for Halls and Greens bayous—two watersheds with less than 50% of projects funded—after putting aside $1.74 billion in bond funding for local use. She said the district should have considered the $1 billion in direct federal funding would not come through. “This is not just a budget issue; this is a strategic issue,” she said. Commissioners unanimously approved a motion directing the

The Harris County Flood Control District has not been awarded grants from the Texas General Land Office for the TC Jester and Westador stormwater detention basins. The grant applications stated both projects would benefit thousands of structures in Cypress Creek’s 100-year flood plain at risk of flooding as well as hundreds of low- and moderate-income structures, or LMI. Beneficiary service area DEFICIT FUNDING

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1 The TC Jester Detention Basin project was not awarded a grant in the GLO’s 2015 Community Development Block Grant Mitigation Program. Location: southeast of the intersection of TC Jester Boulevard and Cypresswood Drive Project cost: $10.2 million Grant request: $10 million Structures at risk in 100-year flood plain: 2,689 LMI structures that could benefit: 479

2 The Westador Detention Basin project was not awarded a grant in the 2016 CDBG-MIT program. Location: Westador neighborhood southeast of the intersection of Ella Boulevard and Cypress Creek Project cost: $10.2 million Grant request: $10 million Structures at risk in 100-year flood plain: 2,655 LMI structures that could benefit: 598

SOURCE: HARRIS COUNTY FLOOD CONTROL DISTRICT/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

HCFCD to work with the county’s budget department on a plan that would describe how projects have been affected because of the stalled funding, how the county can prioritize existing resources to be more equitable and what the county will do if the state funding does not come through. The plan, due back on June 30, will also include a timeline for a potential second bond election for HCFCD.

The district recently completed two Greens Bayou detention basins, according to an April 1 news release. The Glen Forest and Kuykendahl stormwater detention basins can hold a combined 1 billion gallons of stormwater and were funded through the Hurricane Ike Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. Hannah Zedaker contributed to this report.

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NEWS BRIEFS Spring ISDextends calendar, school day for select campuses

BY HANNAH ZEDAKER

they needed improvement or had an “unacceptable performance.” The full-year redesign for Clark Primary and Clark Elementary schools adds 30 days of instruction to the typical 180-day school year calendar. The 2021-22 school year calendar for those campuses will run July 19-June 22. “This is a big decision, and it affects families greatly, so I’m glad that we are able to have a say-so and voice our concerns,” said Nakita Atkinson, a Clark Primary School parent who was involved in a focus group for the 2021-22 calendar. At Bammel Elementary, Bammel Middle, Eickenroht Elementary and Major Elementary schools, only the school day will be extended as opposed to the school year. Details about the extended school day had not been announced as of press time April 14.

The Spring ISD board of trustees voted to extend the 2021-22 school year and school day for six campuses at its April 13 board meeting. Made possible through two Texas Education Agency grants, the board approved an extended 2021-22 school year for Clark Primary and Clark Intermediate schools and extended school day schedules for Bammel Elementary, Bammel Middle, Eickenroht Elementary and Major Elementary schools. According to the TEA, both grant programs aim to improve low-performing schools through additional instruction to address summer learning loss. According to the 2018-19 TEA accountability ratings, each campus selected for grants—excluding Clark Primary School, which was not rated— received a D or F rating, meaning

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TARGETED IMPROVEMENT Five of six SISD campuses selected for grants received D or F ratings in the 2018-19 school year from the Texas Education Agency. 1 Clark Primary School (not rated) 2 Clark Intermediate School (D) 3 Bammel Elementary School (D) 4 Bammel Middle School (F) 5 Eickenroht Elementary School (F) 6 Major Elementary School (F) SOURCES: SPRING ISD, TEXAS EDUCATION AGENCY/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

Cy-ChampPublic UtilityDistrict puts $5.6Mpark bond onMay 1 ballot

BY HANNAH ZEDAKER

boundaries next to Cypress Creek. The bond also includes funds to finish developing two tracts of land at Cutten and Cherry Hills roads, which were partially funded in a $7 million park bond approved in 2005, according to Ron Walkoviak, Cy-Champ PUD director and president. The projects would feature walking trails, a running track, pavilions and a dog park, among other amenities. The district’s tax rate is expected to remain steady.

Taxpayers within the Cy-Champ Public Utility District— the boundaries of which run along Cutten Road south of Cypresswood Drive—will have the opportunity to vote on a $5.6 million park bond in the May 1 election. If approved, the bond would fund the acquisition and development of a 3.89-acre tract of land along Cutten Road and a smaller tract of land at the north end of the district’s

Jerry Coker 713-224-3426 geico.com/ spring-coker 1403 Spring Cypress Road Spring ¡Hablamos Español!

H-GAC gathers notes on 2045 regional plan

Harris County Emergency Services District No. 11, Cypress Creek EMS agree to final budget

BY SHAWN ARRAJJ

BY ANDY LI

service, according to an April 2 news release from ESD No. 11. ESD No. 11 eventually agreed to this amount. “We still believe CCEMS is overcharging ESD 11, but we will address that in the lawsuit,” said Regina Adams of the law firm Radcliffe Bobbitt Adams Polly PLLC, which represents ESD No. 11. In a statement, CCEMS CEO Wren Nealy said the budget will allow for a “safe and orderly transition.” “Cypress Creek EMS Red Shirts can provide their excellent service without the overwhelming burden of wondering if they will get a paycheck in two weeks,” he said.

After months of arguments, Harris County Emergency Services District No. 11 and Cypress Creek Emergency Medical Services agreed to a $10.8 million budget for the remainder of their contract, which expires in September. ESD No. 11 is the taxing entity that funds emergency medical services in its coverage area. CCEMS, a nonprofit, provides ambulance and emergency services in the same area. CCEMS reportedly asked for almost $1.4 million monthly or April 17 would be its final day of

The Houston-Galveston Area Council is collecting public feedback on proposed updates to its 2045 regional transportation plan. The plan—which is updated annually—outlines transportation priorities including road projects, public transit improvements, and hike and bike trails. SUBMIT FEEDBACK Community members can submit comments through April 28. 855-363-2516 publiccomments@h-gac.com www.2045rtp.com

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11

SPRING - KLEIN EDITION • APRIL 2021

BUSINESS FEATURE

BY HANNAH ZEDAKER

CARING FOR A CARNIVOROUSPLANT While each type of carnivorous plant has specic needs, the Howletts oer general tips for carnivorous plant care.

Water: Carnivorous plants require pure water, not bottled, spring or tap water. Keep soil moist. Soil: Plants grow best in acidic, nutrient-decient soil. Light: Most plants enjoy 14-16 hours of bright, ltered light outdoors or indoors from a window or soft white lamp. Food: Plants get dietary supplements from trapping bugs and other animals, which help them grow faster but are not required.

The business sells sundews, pitcher plants, butterworts, bladderworts and Venus ytraps.

Pet Fly Trap Spring couple runs one of largest carnivorous plant nurseries in U.S. A fter spending 25 years in the Harris County Precinct 4 Parks Department, Mike Howlett and his wife, Stephanie Howlett, turned The Howletts tend to more than 20,000 carnivorous plants daily at Pet Fly Trap, which is operated from the backyard and greenhouse of their Spring home. (Photos by Hannah Zedaker/Community Impact Newspaper)

over the world and clone them—a process that takes about a year but results in hundreds of plants. “With these plants coming in from all over the world and in dierent habitats, if there’s a place you want to grow a plant, there’s a carnivorous plant that can be grown there,” Mike said. While online orders can be placed for curbside pickup on Sundays and Tuesdays, Pet Fly Trap also ships plants nationwide. As a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent rise of online shopping, Stephanie said business has skyrocketed, allowing the couple to donate more money to local homeless shelter Hope Center Houston and other nonprot organizations. Once COVID-19 vaccines are more widespread, the Howletts said they are looking forward to hosting more educational workshops and eld trips to share their carnivorous plant knowledge with the community. “To me, it’s not about owning a business at all,” Stephanie said. “Working with plants is great, [but] learning about supporting a life, teaching about wetland [loss] and preservation—that’s the why.”

the lure of carnivorous plants into their livelihood. “I’m a herpetologist by trade, so I used to do a lot of nature education,” Mike said. “But I always had [people] say, ‘It’s so easy to get kids interested in animals. How do we get them interested in plants?’” So Mike began selling carnivorous plants—plants that eat animals—through his reptile business. In 2007, he bought the Pet Fly Trap brand from its previous owners and rebuilt the business. Now, the couple operates one of the largest online carnivorous plant nurseries in the U.S., Mike said. With only one part-time sta member, the couple tends to more than 20,000 plants daily in their Spring home’s backyard and greenhouse, including sundews, pitcher plants, butterworts and bladderworts as well as Venus ytraps, one of the most recognizable carnivorous plants. Harvesting carnivorous plants from the wild is illegal, so the Howletts import their plants from all

Husband and wife Mike and Stephanie Howlett took ownership of Pet Fly Trap in 2007.

Pet Fly Trap 3826 Mossy Oaks Road E., Spring 281-433-3290 www.petytrap.com

Hours: Curbside pickup for online orders is available Sundays and Tuesdays by appointment only due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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MOSSY OAKS RD. E.

MOSSY OAKS RD.

99 TOLL

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12

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

DINING FEATURE

BY ANDY LI

4 DISHES TO TRY

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The Cuban comes with pulled pork and ham and is served with a side of plantains.

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The Sweet N’ Hot wings combine Asian and Latin avors.

The Everything Burger features a fried egg, chorizo, bacon, ham and several other toppings.

TheBarkMi Burger is inspired by the Vietnamese dish banhmi and includes jalapenos, cilantro, carrots and cucumbers.

PHOTOS BY ANDY LICOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

LuckyDog Sports Bar andGrill Dog-friendly bar in Spring pushes to become family-friendly restaurant A s the Spring community begins to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic, Although the bar acts as a community gathering place, Zuniga said he wants the bar’s culinary to bring something positive, like exposing my kitchen. Now, we are more of a restaurant than a bar.”

Owner Bryan Zuniga named Lucky Dog Sports Bar and Grill after his Great Dane.

Bryan Zuniga, owner of Lucky Dog Sports Bar and Grill, said he hopes to bring back the family-friendly atmosphere of his bar. Zuniga opened the bar in January 2018 after leaving the banking business to pursue his dream of owning a restaurant. The bar itself is a tribute to his Great Dane, Remus, who was “lucky” enough to live 13 years, Zuniga said. “I’ve built the bar around him, so we welcome dogs here,” he said. “Inside you can bring your dogs on a leash; outside we have the dog area.”

options to get customers talking as well. The bar oers various burgers, including a Cuban sandwich— Zuniga’s family recipe—and a Bark Mi Burger, inspired by a Vietnamese customer’s culinary tips. The lockdown forced the bar to furlough many of its employees, so Zuniga, his wife and his son ran the bar for most of the pandemic, Zuniga said. Despite the hardship, he said the pandemic allowed his food to really shine on its own. “Yes, it was a very scary experience; yes, we did lose a lot of money,” he said. “But we were able

Zuniga said he had hoped 2020 would be a year of reaching new customers and adding space to his bar. Now that 2021 seems to oer more hope, he said he wanted to bring the community back together by bringing games and live music back to the bar. “I want to be a neighborhood bar and grill where everybody comes in with their kids. We have bingo nights; we have dogs on the patio,” he said. “So I kind of just want to become more of a one-neighborhood family. That’s where I want to be at.”

LuckyDog Sports Bar andGrill 9440 Louetta Road, Spring 832-698-2977 www.luckydogbars.com Hours: Sun.-Thu. 11 a.m.-midnight, Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-1 a.m.

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13

SPRING  KLEIN EDITION • APRIL 2021

STATEWIDE Changes in instruction have created strained learning environments for students across the state. Preliminary studies by the Texas Education Agency show students may have lost about three and a half months of instruction due to the pandemic. STRUGGLE

On March 18, Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath recommended legislators target three key areas to address pandemic-related regression. STRATEGIC Instructional materials Senate Bill 226, written by state Sen. Angela Paxton, R-McKinney, would provide educational programs for teachers about online learning. Teacher support Morath suggested encouraging districts to give teachers more time to make lesson plans outside of classroom instruction. Klein ISD teachers receive about one planning day a month to develop teaching plans. More instructional time Morath discussed expanding the school day, utilizing summer school and providing more tutoring to students. On April 13, Spring ISD voted to extend the 2021-22 school year and day for select campuses. SOLUTIONS

Percentage of students who performed below grade level

2019 STAAR

2020 end of year

2021 beginning of year

Testing scores for Texas students Third grade

22% 19% 24% 23% 26% 21%

22% 30% 17% 20% 30% 20%

44% 51% 34% 38%

Eighth grade

Third grade Eighth grade Fifth grade Eighth grade

78%

49% SOURCES: KLEIN ISD, SPRING ISD, TEXAS EDUCATION AGENCY/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

SISD officials said student achievement in reading fell slightly from 2019-20 to 2020-21, but the gaps in math were more significant with 55% of fourth- grade students at or above grade level in 2021 versus 64% in 2020. In an emailed statement, SISD Communications Officer Sylvia Wood said remote learning limitations during the pandemic have exacerbated teachers’ already difficult task of addressing learning loss. However, in some subjects, remote students have performed better than their in-person peers, data shows. CFISD found similar achievement drops with the percentage of students reading at grade level dropping from 77% to 61% from January 2020 to January 2021. The district also found Black, Hispanic and economically disadvantaged student populations appear to be struggling the most, according to district data presented during a Feb. 10 board meeting. CFISD Chief Academic Officer Linda Macias said these three subgroups have historically performed below their white and more affluent peers. “I heard a presenter that called it not so much [learning] gaps as much

Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath during the 87th Texas Legislature. In his presentation, Morath said even with standardized state and local assessments in the pandemic, it is unclear how severe student regression is but that almost half of Texas students could be failing by the end of 2021. Although some remote students fared worse than their in-person peers, Morath said remote learning has helped other students, namely older high school students. “The short version is it’s bad,” Morath said. “It’s historically bad in terms of where our kids are and what we are going to need to do to support them.” However, Rob D’Amico, the communications director for Texas American Federation of Teachers, a statewide union for educators and school employees, said the pandemic created chaos, but many teachers said they believe the effects will not be lifelong. “It’s much more important to keep our communities, our parents, our students, our school employees safe ... than it is to become obsessed with

as unfinished learning—they have not had the opportunity to have all the instruction, the learning that needs to be occurring,” she said. Comparatively, KISD data actually showed fewer students performed belowgrade level during the pandemic. Only 53% of elementary students achievedprojectedgrowth inreading in 2019 versus 60% in 2020. Information onwhy student achievement increased was not available by press time. However, Greg Nelson, a senior economics teacher at Klein Cain High School, said he has seen student engagement—especially those doing remote learning—drop significantly this last year. Nelson said he attributes the disengagement to students struggling with mental health amid the pandemic, which is leading to declining grades. “From an educator’s perspective, I would say the number one factor is mental health,” he said. “I look at my kids, even the ones that are sitting here in class, and they’re not engaged.” Stateefforts The Texas Senate Committee on Education met March 18 with

CONTINUED FROM 1

including the typical 2.5 months of summer learning loss, according to a January report by the Texas Education Agency. After passing the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act in March 2020, Congress passed more COVID-19 relief in December, giving Texas about $17.9 billion for education. As teachers andstaffattempt toaddress students falling behind academically, statewide activists hope the federal assistance will allow for more targeted support for students. “We’re hoping that [federal funding will] go towards ... tutoring programs and additional school days and high school credit recoveries and professional development and before- and after-school care,” said Bob Popinski, director of policy at education advocacy nonprofit Raise Your Hand Texas. Slidingscores Spring- and Klein-area school districts have tried to measure the extent of the learning loss through assessments. At aFeb. 4boardmeeting,

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14

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

CLOSING THE GAPS

KLEIN ISD

SPRING ISD

CY-FAIR ISD

At a Feb. 4 board meeting, SISD officials said the district should set districtwide academic goals, provide supervision and support for individual campuses that require help, and provide additional professional development for teachers.

CFISD has set aside additional time during the school day to address regression and has offered summer school and tutoring for students struggling.

In addition to daily and traditional intervention, KISD staff have participated in over 1,000 personal home visits and more than 6,700 hours accrued in recruiting efforts to get students back in school and on campus.

Klein, Spring and Cy-Fair ISDs have implemented a variety of programs for students falling behind during the pandemic.

SOURCES: KLEIN ISD, SPRING ISD, CY-FAIR ISD/ COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

potential learning loss,” D’Amico said. To help better understand student progress amid the pandemic, the TEA brought back the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness for the 2020-21 school year; the exam was not required last year. Although the TEA stated in its January report the scores will not be used for state or federal accountability purposes, some educators and advocacy groups are opposed to requiring the STAAR at all this year. Texas AFT President Zeph Capo criticized spending time andmoney on “stressful, unnecessary standardized tests” during a pandemic. “Our leaders should be ... making sure we have adequate time to let kids work on curriculum,” he said. “Endless test prep for STAAR also isn’t going to help our students, and the end result is going to be wasted time

small-group instruction, additional tutoring and video lessons on specific topics studentsmay be strugglingwith. “We’re also going to be giving our parents of students in kindergarten through eighth grade a detailed snapshot of how their student is doing on the various assessments this year,” Wood said. “We know our parents can provide much support when we partner to address learning gaps.” CFISD has also made efforts to curb the learning loss, from teachers giving more leeway and support for individual students to summer school availability for any student needing extra support and in-person and virtual tutoring opportunities, according to Macias. However, officials at all three school districts said they were looking for state guidance on further ways to address the COVID-19 slide. In March,

and money for bad data.” Slowclimb

Morath legislators focus on providing instructional materials, support for teachers and more instructional time to address pandemic-related regression. Additionally, at an April 14 presentation, Morath said the recommended $17.9 billion in federal funding will be allocated to school districts, but he said the Legislature is awaiting federal guidance before distributing it. He did not clarify how much or when districts would receive the funds. “The legislative leadership is actually very interested in making sure that all districts are made whole in their COVID[-19] expenses,” he said. Danica Lloyd and Kelly Schafler contributed to this report.

Outside of STAAR, Miller said KISD teachers regularly assess student progress in formal and informal ways—from TEA-mandated assessments to goal-setting with individual students. She said teachers will address regression through small- group instruction, individualized learning in class and additional tutoring opportunities. Meanwhile, Wood said SISD is increasing the frequency of its own assessments for the spring semester to every three weeks—as opposed to three times a year in the fall, winter and spring—to ensure learning gaps are promptly addressed.

Make It Easy. Save Money. Go Green. Save Money. Go Green. When gaps are found, Wood said the district creates instructional plans similar to KISD, which includes

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SPRING - KLEIN EDITION • APRIL 2021

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