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BELLAIRE MEYERLAND WEST UNIVERSITY EDITION
VOLUME 4, ISSUE 11 MARCH 4APRIL 10, 2023
Spanish Village closing after 70 years
Students, parents, teachers and state representatives gather outside the Houston ISD administrative oces Feb. 2 to protest the potential state takeover of the district. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact)
“STATE CONTROL REMOVES OUR ABILITY TO HAVE A VOICE IN OUR SCHOOLS ... ”
“THIS SUPREME COURT RULING IS A MUCH NEEDED STEP TO … RETURN THE CASE TO THE INTENT OF THE LEGISLATURE ... ”
Work wraps up on Bualo Speedway project
CAMP GUIDE 2023
STATE REP. CHRISTINA MORALES, DHOUSTON
STATE SEN. PAUL BETTENCOURT, RHOUSTON
Advocates speak out as state takeover of HISD looms
A long-running legal battle between Houston ISD and the state of Texas could be headed toward state intervention in its largest pub- lic school district following a rul- ing by the Texas Supreme Court. The court issued an opinion BY SHAWN ARRAJJ
Jan. 13 in a case related to whether Texas Education Agency Commis- sioner Mike Morath has the author- ity to appoint a board of managers for HISD under the Texas Education Code. Writing for the court, Jus- tice Jane Bland vacated an injunc- tion that previously was blocking
a state takeover, sending the case back to the trial court to be reheard. Some public education watch- dogs said the court’s deci- sion returns power to the TEA as intended by state law. “This Supreme Court ruling is a
Local summer camps
CONTINUED ON 14
Willow Waterhole, Energy Capital Park plans advance
Museum-based eatery blends food with art
BY SHAWN ARRAJJ & MELISSA ENAJE
Pull the newest teaser from CC Libraries
Eight miles of new trail will soon be con- structed at the Willow Waterhole Greenway in southwest Houston. But that is just the start of what could be a wave of investment in the broader area. In addition to the trails, plans are coming together for Energy Capital Park, a project planned for a nearly 29-acre site adjacent to the greenway that could also feature a
New trails are underway at Westbury Lake at the Willow Waterhole Greenway, slated for completion in March.
CONTINUED ON 16
SHAWN ARRAJJCOMMUNITY IMPACT
HOUSTON METHODIST MORE THAN A HOSPITAL
One-Stop Access for All Your Health Care Needs Houston Methodist in the Texas Medical Center is more than just a hospital. We offer a full spectrum of care, including: • Specialty physician offices, imaging and labs • Teams of experts using the newest technologies • Personalized care tailored to your unique needs • Six centers of excellence in cancer, cardiology, gastroenterology, neurology, orthopedics and sports medicine, and transplant
HOUSTON METHODIST HOSPITAL
To find a doctor, visit houstonmethodist.org/more or call 713.790.3333.
SPECIALTY PHYSICIAN OFFICES, IMAGING AND LABS located in Scurlock and Smith Towers and Outpatient Center
There’s a little bit of all of us at Miller...
For 100 years, Miller Outdoor Theatre has delighted generations of audiences with the best in performing arts entertainment. And every performance free.
Join the season-long celebration. Celebrate 100 years of WOW! Enjoy eight months of the best music, dance, theatre and more. Plus, four big events packed with fun for the whole family two hours prior to a live performance. Dress in themed attire. Enjoy costumed performers, live mural paintings, epic photo installations and more. All free! MARCH 17 — SEASON OPENER: 8 PM The Trinity Irish Dance Company MARCH 18 — Special 100th Celebration: 6 PM, Performance 8 PM Return to the year it all started, 1923, with a roaring 20s extravaganza from 6 – 8 PM, capped off with a performance by the legendary Hot Sardines at 8 PM. MARCH 24 — I am King: The Michael Jackson Experience: 8 PM Located in Houston’s Hermann Park. Full season calendar, 100th event schedule and free ticket info at milleroutdoortheatre.com/celebratemiller
BELLAIRE - MEYERLAND - WEST UNIVERSITY EDITION • MARCH 2023
You are the focus of neurological advancements. We find innovative ways to keep your brain working the way it should. Like coordinating stroke care while you are in transit so treatment plans can start before you even get to the ER. All so you can go on living like you. This is neurological care designed for you. memorialhermann.org/neuro
Advancing health. Personalizing care.
ABOUT US Owners John and Jennifer Garrett launched Community Impact in 2005, and the company is still locally owned today. We have expanded to include hundreds of team members and have created our own software platform and printing facility. CI delivers 35+ localized editions across Texas to more than 2.5 million residential mailboxes. MARKET TEAM GENERAL MANAGER Jay McMahon SENIOR EDITOR Shawn Arrajj REPORTER Melissa Enaje GRAPHIC DESIGNER Jatziri Garcia ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Holly Nunez METRO LEADERSHIP PUBLISHER Jason Culpepper MANAGING EDITOR Kelly Schaer COPY EDITOR Adrian Gandara SENIOR ART PRODUCTION MANAGER Kaitlin Schmidt CONTACT US 16300 Northwest Freeway Jersey Village, TX 77040 • 2814696181 CI CAREERS communityimpact.com/careers PRESS RELEASES firstname.lastname@example.org ADVERTISING email@example.com Learn more at communityimpact.com/advertising EMAIL NEWSLETTERS communityimpact.com/newsletter SUPPORT US Join your neighbors by giving to the CI Patron program. Funds support our journalistic mission to provide trusted, local news in your community. Learn more at communityimpact.com/cipatron
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THIS MONTH
FROM JAY: Spring is upon us here in Houston, and the outdoor activities are going into high gear. One well-known outdoor activity in Hermann Park is Miller Outdoor Theatre, which is preparing for its 100th season this year. Its centennial season will kick o on March 17, featuring the Trinity Irish Dance Company, a cutting-edge Irish dance troupe, and a full season of entertainment throughout 2023. Also celebrating 100 years in Hermann Park, the Houston Zoo features specials you can read about in our To-Do section on Page 8 as well as some other great events to check out. Jay McMahon, GENERAL MANAGER
FROM SHAWN: Our top story this month takes a look at some developments that have taken place in a courtroom clash between Houston ISD and the Texas Education Agency. We take a look at the history of the case, which dates back to 2019, as well as the implications of a January Texas Supreme Court decision that has caused some concern among public education advocacy groups. In addition to that, we bring you the latest on the Willow Waterhole Greenway in Westbury, where new trails are slated to open this year and talks are ongoing over a potential multimillion-dollar community park. Shawn Arrajj, SENIOR EDITOR
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BELLAIRE MEYERLAND WEST UNIVERSITY EDITION • MARCH 2023
SEASONAL ALLERGIES, COVID, VIRAL COLDS, AND FLU GET AN ACCURATE DIAGNOSIS AT ASCENT
2280 Holcombe Blvd., Houston, TX 77030 713-357-7391 www.ascentemc.com WALK IN OR REGISTER ONLINE
Emergency evaluations for Covid-19, RSV, and Flu available 24/7 Corner of Holcombe & Almeda
E aster at First Presbyterian Church Celebrate Join us in person or online as we celebrate our risen Savior! Visit fpchouston.org/easter for worship styles and more information. 8:15 | 9:15 | 10:45 | 11:00
5300 MAIN ST. HOUSTON, TX 77004 | 713.620.6500 | FPCHOUSTON.ORG
Businesses that have recently opened or are coming soon, relocating or expanding
W E S T H E I M E R R D .
R I C H
RICE BLVD. TIMES BLVD.
HERMANN PARK DR.
8 HERMANN PARK
Spanish Village will close March 31 after 70 years.
U N I V E R S I T Y B L V D
COURTESY KRISTEN GILLIAM
FEATURED IMPACT CLOSING Spanish Village , an iconic Tex-Mex restaurant that has been operating on Almeda Road for nearly 70 years, will close March 31, according to an announcement made by restaurant ocials in January. The eatery is located at 4720 Almeda Road, Houston. Spanish Village closed during the coronavirus pandemic in July 2021 but reopened soon after under new owner Steven Rogers. Rogers now hopes to carry the eatery through its 70th anniversary in March, after which he said he plans to start a new restaurant. Details on the next project will come at a later date, but Rogers said the legacy of Spanish Village will carry on at the new eatery. Spanish Village, which opened in 1953 under the Medina family, was known for its traditional menu and margaritas, made with a recipe that had been passed down for generations. “There’s absolutely no arguing the impact Spanish Village has had on the Third Ward. The Medina family built something incredible, and I have been honored to be able to continue that,” Rogers said in a statement. “Despite the restaurant closing, it’s important to me and to the community to honor that legacy.” 713-360-7792. www.instagram.com/ spanishvillagerestaurant
W. HOLCOMBE BLVD.
S. POST OAK RD.
TM; © 2023 COMMUNITY IMPACT CO. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. MAP NOT TO SCALE N
Houston. The cafe oers seasonal food, drinks and snacks as well as full table service for all-day breakfast, brunch and lunch. Coee shop guests can expect beach-themed decor and dishes, such as the Best Mates Bowl, which consists of smashed avocado served with heirloom tomatoes, feta and poached eggs. The coee shop also oers to-go food items, such as housemade granola, toast and bowls. Drink options include signature coee, wellness drinks, signature cold- pressed juices and organic teas. 718-374-6858. www.bluestonelane.com COMING SOON 5 The third Texas location of the luxury boutique Monkee’s of Houston will open March 17 in The Centre at River Oaks, 3019 Kirby Drive, Houston, oering a curated collection of fashion-forward clothing, shoes and accessories. Other locations can be found in Frisco and Fort Worth. Each Monkee’s boutique owner curates their store aesthetic and mer- chandise to reect their personal vision and local style. Brands include S’edge, Nation, Olivia James and Dolce Cabo, among others. The new location will be owned and operated by Lisa and Scott West. www.monkeesoouston.com 6 Construction began Feb. 1 on a new aordable housing property called Rose- Mary’s Place apartments in Midtown. The development, located at 3300 Caroline St., Houston, will provide 149 units and services for homeless individuals. The nonprot NHP Foundation is developing the property. Occupants in the four-story building will be provided with voluntary support services from Magnicat Houses Inc. in an eort to connect them with community-based health care, treatment and employment services. The ground oor will have three multipurpose rooms, a warming kitchen, two separate gath- ering areas and a 24-hour staed entry
desk. Funding for the $45 million project was provided by the city of Houston, Harris County and sponsor loans from MHI. The project is expected to open by May 2024. 7 Vegan and plant-based bakery Cinnaholic is preparing to open its doors at the Meyerland Court Shopping Center this summer. Owner Mafer Figueroa said she plans to have the bakery—located at 4798 Beechnut St., Houston—open by June. The vegan bakery serves custom- ized cinnamon rolls and other sweet items, such as brownies, cookies and edible cookie dough, that are all free of dairy, lactose and egg. 833-246-3726. www.cinnaholic.com ANNIVERSARIES 8 Miller Outdoor Theatre is preparing for its 100th season with eight months of festivities beginning March 17 at 6000 Hermann Park Drive, Houston. The Miller Theatre Advisory Board has also started a $12.5 million capital campaign to fundraise for improvements and renovations to the century-old theater. This funding will go toward updating the theater’s xed and hillside seating as well as a new entryway. A number of anniver- sary celebrations will take place on site throughout the year, including a 100th birthday party May 12 with a “larger- than-life” birthday cake and birthday-
COMPILED BY SHAWN ARRAJJ, MELISSA ENAJE & LEAH FOREMAN
NOW OPEN 1 With the Houston Rodeo ongoing as of Feb. 28, a pop-up location of the Western clothing retailer Kemo Sabe opened Feb. 23 in Rice Village and is open through March 11. The shop—located at 2414 University Blvd., Ste. 100, Hous- ton—sells clothing for men and women, including boots, hats, buckles, knives and vintage jewelry. www.kemosabe.com 2 Chinese-American takeout restaurant The Rice Box opened its fourth Hous- ton location in Rice Village on Jan. 21 at 5504 Morningside Drive, Houston. The Rice Box began as a red-colored food truck decked out in Chinese decorations that roamed the streets of Houston and became a staple among University of Houston students. The restaurant oers modern Chinese American cuisine that includes classic dishes, such as General Tso, sesame chicken, pepper steak, a va- riety of street food, and rice and noodle dishes. The restaurant serves a variety of nitrogen-infused teas. 713-505-1278. www.riceboxed.com 3 [Solidcore] , a strength-training studio based in Washington, D.C., opened the doors to its third Houston location Feb. 11 in Rice Village at 2411 Times Blvd., Houston. Inspired by traditional pilates, [solidcore] is a strength-based 50-minute tness class that oers full- body workouts that use slow, controlled movements to break down muscle bers. The new location is run by Brand Manager Leora Kahn. 832-956-0654. www.solidcore.co 4 Bluestone Lane , the Australia-in- spired coee chain, opened the doors to its third Texas location Feb. 15 in Rice Village at 2414 University Blvd., Ste. 190,
related activities. 832-487-7102. www.milleroutdoortheatre.com IN THE NEWS
Ocials with Houston Methodist Hos- pital awarded $6.8 million in grants in February through the hospital’s Commu- nity Benets Grant Program. Of the 32 new awardees, several are located in the Bellaire, Meyerland and West University area, including Lone Star Circle of Care, Catholic Charities and San Jose Clinic
and Healthcare for the Homeless. Over the last 30 years, Houston Methodist’s Community Benets Grant Program has provided $168 million in funding to 82 unique local charities. www.houstonmethodist.org
BELLAIRE MEYERLAND WEST UNIVERSITY EDITION • MARCH 2023
COMPILED BY MELISSA ENAJE
CELEBRATE 100 YEARS OF THE HOUSTON ZOO HOUSTON ZOO
ENJOY SOUTH INDIAN DANCES CULLEN THEATER
The rst Saturday of each month is dedicated to enjoying the zoo’s birthday during its centennial celebration. Guests can hear special zookeeper talks and meet with animal ambassadors. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Free (members), $23 (nonmembers). Houston Zoo, 6200 Hermann Park Drive, Houston. 713-533-6500. www.houstonzoo.org
Presented by Performing Arts Houston and the Indo-American Association, Bharatanatyam choreographers Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy present dance works in “Fires of Varanasi: Dance of the Eternal Pilgrim.” 7:30 p.m. $29-$109. Cullen Theater, 501 Texas Ave., Houston. 713-227-4772. www.performingartshouston.org
COURTESY HOUSTON ZOO
COURTESY INDOAMERICAN ASSOCIATION
18 THROUGH 30
25 SIP WINE, EAT TAPAS The nonprot Patrons for Bellaire Parks will host the 13th annual Wine and Tapas “Red and White” Gala. The evening at Evelyn’s Park green space will be lled with wine, food from local restaurants and live music, all to fundraise for Bellaire parks and surrounding communities. The nonprot works to restore, preserve and expand parks, natural areas and trails in the city. 7-11 p.m. $150 (per person). The Event Center at Evelyn’s Park, 4400 Bellaire Blvd., Bellaire. 713-661-7275. www.bellaireparks.org
MARCH 05 THROUGH JUNE 03
550 McKinney St., Houston. 832-393-1313. www.houstonlibrary.org 11 JOIN THE ST. PATRICK’S DAY PARADE Houston’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade is coming to downtown Houston. The two-hour parade will start at Market Square Park and include more than 100 entries to delight the Irish and Irish-at- heart. An awards ceremony will take place during an after-party at Market Square Park following the parade. Noon- 1:30 p.m. Free. Market Square Park, 301 Milam St., Houston. http://hsppc.org
ATTEND A FILM FESTIVAL
The Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center will host its 19th annual Houston Jewish Film Festival. Guests can watch award-winning lms, comedies and dramas that will bring Jewish lives and stories to the big screen at the Kaplan Theatre. In addition to feature-length lms, the festival will also include screenings dedicated to shorts and comedies. 8 p.m. $12 (members), $15 (nonmembers). Kaplan Theatre, 5601 S. Braeswood Blvd., Houston. 713-551-7215. www.erjcchouston.org
EXPLORE AAPI STORIES AT
THE LIBRARY The Houston Public Library is showcasing an exhibit that documents the history, lives and contributions of the Asian American and Pacic Islander community in Greater Houston. The “Our Vibrant AAPI Community” exhibit oers a panoramic view of Asian immigrants and their descendants. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (Tue.- Sat.). Free. Julia Ideson Building Gallery,
Find more or submit Bellaire, Meyerland and West University events at communityimpact.com/event-calendar. Event organizers can submit local events online to be considered for the print edition. Submitting details for consideration does not guarantee publication.
Build On Your Lot
MEMORIAL PARK S. PICNIC LOOP MARCH 24-26 2023 FRIDAY - SUNDAY 10 AM TO 6 PM
FEATURED ARTIST DEWEY JAMES
■ 300 National & International Artists ■ 19 Disciplines of Art
■ 2 Entertainment Stages ■ Active Imagination Zone ■ Craft Beer & Wine Garden ■ Art Installations & Exhibits ■ Food Truck Park ■ VIP Hospitality Lounge
• Complimentary Site Evaluation • Award-Winning Floorplans • Professional Design Center • Trusted Warranty Program
TICKETS ON SALE NOW www.bayoucityartfestival.com
Pricing from the $450s
Prices and availability subject to change without notice.
TRANSPORTATION UPDATES Bualo Speedway opens in West University Place after two-year project
COMPILED BY SHAWN ARRAJJ
DAIRY ASHFORD RD.
All lanes of Bualo Speedway between Bissonnet Street and Gramercy Street in the city of West University Place ocially opened to trac Feb. 17 as work concluded on the ongoing paving and drainage project. The opening took place several months ahead of schedule, city ocials said. Construction on the roughly $32.2 million project dates back to 2021, though planning work started in 2019. The project entailed replacing road surface and drainage, including the installation of storm sewer boxes to carry stormwater to Poor Farm Ditch. The project also brought visual enhancements at major intersections. A $9.2 million federal grant helped cover a portion of the cost of the project. Before the ocial opening, city ocials were joined by the contrac- tor and U.S. Rep. Lizzie Fletcher, DHouston, for a ribbon-cutting ceremony Jan. 19.
ALL INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE WAS UPDATED AS OF FEB. 21. NEWS OR QUESTIONS ABOUT THESE OR OTHER LOCAL TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS? EMAIL US AT BMWNEWSCOMMUNITYIMPACT.COM. tions through enhanced crosswalks, lighting, bike lanes and dedicated turn lanes. Timeline: summer 2025- summer 2028 Cost: $36 million Funding sources: city of Houston, U.S. Department of Transportation Bissonnet Corridor improvements The city of Houston received $28.7 million for the Bissonnet Corri- dor Safe Streets Project from the U.S. Department of Transportation, which announced Feb. 7 the allocation of $72.7 million to 28 cities for projects that increase roadway safety and pre- vent accidents. The city will use the funds to address unsafe road crossings and improve confusing intersec-
City ocials in West University Place gathered in January to celebrate the opening of the improved Bualo Speedway. (Courtesy Bianca Cuccerre)
“I am thrilled to see this project nearing completion as it will bring much-needed improvements to this section of the city’s drainage system that was constructed in the 1940s,” Mayor Susan Sample said at the ceremony. Although the lanes reopened Feb. 17, crews are beginning a nal site restoration checklist that is slated for completion in April.
W. HOLCOMBE BLVD.
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Make this moment matter by taking the first step. Make an appointment today at StLukesHealth.org/Cardiology .
BELLAIRE MEYERLAND WEST UNIVERSITY EDITION • MARCH 2023
Easter at Second All it’s cracked up to be!
EASTER CELEBRATION SERVICES
FRI-SUN • APR 7-9 Worship and celebrate the risen Savior at one of our Easter services!
Visit second.org/easter or scan the QR code for more information.
Passion Week Experience Wed-Fri • Apr 5-7
Prepare your heart for Easter as you walk through Christ's last days in an immersive, self-guided journey through the stations of the cross. Interactive guidebooks are available for preschool ages and up.
Second Baptist Church | Dr. Ed Young, Pastor | 6400 Woodway Dr at Voss Rd
CITY & COUNTY
News from Bellaire, West University Place, Houston & Harris County
Harris County Commissioners Court will meet for its regular meeting at 10 a.m. March 14 at 1001 Preston St., Ste. 934, Houston. Meetings are streamed live at www.harriscountytx.gov. Bellaire City Council will meet at 7 p.m. March 6 at 7008 S. Rice Ave., Bellaire. Meetings are streamed at www.bellairetx.gov. West University Place City Council will meet at 6:30 p.m. March 13 at 3800 University Blvd., Houston. Meetings are available via teleconference. Find details at www.westutx.gov. Houston City Council will meet for public comment at 2 p.m. March 7 and regular business at 9 a.m. March 8 at City Hall, 901 Bagby St., Houston. MEETINGS WE COVER HIGHLIGHTS HARRIS COUNTY In a 4-1 vote Feb. 16, Harris County commissioners launched a lawsuit against the state comptroller in response to allegations that the county has defunded law enforcement. On Feb. 10, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar released a statement that his oce had reviewed Harris County’s 2023 budget and found “evidence of a reduction of funding for a law enforcement agency.” WEST UNIVERSITY PLACE Members of the West University Place City Council directed engineers to explore updating the aging water pipeline infrastructure within the entire city at a Feb. 13 meeting. City Manager Dave Beach said the undertaking could cost close to $500 million. Detention sites at the city’s recreation center and Colonial Park and new pipelines along Kilmarnock Ditch are also up for consideration as part of the city’s West Side Drainage Project. City sta hopes to bring a preliminary engineering report back for council consideration by the end of March.
Bellaire City Council requests more data before dog pound decision
BY MELISSA ENAJE
One proposal for a dog pound is a modular structure on First Street. RENDERING COURTESY CITY OF BELLAIRE AGENDA PACKET
Street option would include a $100,000 donation from the Jerry and Maury Rubenstein Foundation, leaving about $35,000 left for the city to fund. The city’s current dog pound on Edith Street can house up to ve dogs in separate fenced enclosures and aver- ages at least three dogs a day. Rebecca Roberts-Newton is one of the founders of the Friends of the Bel- laire Pound, a nonprot that assists the Bellaire police to nd homes for dogs in the pound. She said the group has been petitioning the city for a new pound since August 2021. Bellaire Mayor Andrew Friedberg acknowledged the decision has taken some time to make. “Speaking for myself, it’s more important we get it right than try to just pick from one option,” he said.
BELLAIRE At a Jan. 23 meeting, Bellaire City Council members failed to make a decision on where to house a new dog pound, instead asking city sta to investigate alternative options. Council members rst asked the city’s police department for sugges- tions for a new location in November 2021. At the Jan. 23 meeting, Chief of Police Onesimo Lopez Jr. presented two options: one on an undeveloped property owned by the city at 1311 N. First St., Bellaire; and one on undevel- oped property owned by Texas Pipe & Supply outside of city limits at 2328 W. Bellfort Ave., Houston. The First Street site would be situ- ated in an industrial center and would cost around $300,000. The Bellfort
Dog pound option 1
Dog pound option 2
L F O R T
Houston collects just under 800 guns at third buyback event
BY SHAWN ARRAJJ
OFF THE STREETS Houston has hosted three gun buyback events since July.
HOUSTON Ocials with the city of Houston and Harris County collected 793 guns during the city’s third gun buyback event Feb. 18 at Alexander Deussen Park in northeast Houston. The event—part of the One Safe Houston initiative launched by Hous- ton Mayor Sylvester Turner in February 2022—allows residents to anonymously trade in guns they no longer want for gift cards. Since the rst event in July, the city has collected more than 2,800 guns. “The success of the two events
demonstrated that people do want a safe space to dispose of their guns. We remove guns that were unwanted and had the potential of falling into the wrong hands,” Turner said in com- ments before the third event. Gift cards ranged from $50-$200 depending on the type of gun, and guns are disposed of by local author- ities, Turner said. The city does not accept 3D-printed versions of guns or ghost guns, which are unserialized or untraceable rearms that can be bought online or assembled at home.
Date: July 30, 2022 Guns collected: 845
Date: Oct. 8, 2022 Guns collected: 1,208
Date: Feb. 18 Guns collected: 793
Meetings are streamed at www.houstontx.gov/htv.
SOURCE: CITY OF HOUSTONCOMMUNITY IMPACT
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Puzzle and Pizza Welcome Spring with Iora March 15th @ 11am March 20th @ 11am
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BELLAIRE MEYERLAND WEST UNIVERSITY EDITION • MARCH 2023
A noncomprehensive list of camps in the area
COMPILED BY SHAWN ARRAJJ & MELISSA ENAJE
Parents looking for camps for their children have a number of options to choose from in the Bellaire, Houston and West University area. This list is not comprehensive.
training. Ages: pre-K-grade 10 Dates: June 5Aug. 18 Cost: $245-$1,875 depending on camp duration ART DAY SP Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center, 5601 S. Braeswood Blvd., Houston 7137293200 www.erjcchouston.org 8 Kids Robotic Academy This robotics and STEM-focused weekly camp has four skill levels teaching the concepts and skills in build- ing simple to complex robots, with weekly sessions oering age-appropriate instruction. Ages: 312 Dates: spring camp March 1317, summer camp May 29Aug. 18 Cost: $450 per week for half-day camps; full- day camps are $599 A+ DAY Kids Robotic Academy, 4007 Bellaire Blvd., Ste. KK, Houston 7134547004 www.kidsroboticacademy.com 9 Westbury Christian School Summer camps have tracks in STEM, sports and ne arts. Campers have daily Bible class, track ac- tivities and eld trips to conclude each track.
On Fridays, campers play in splash zones with giant foam bubbles and inatables. Ages: age 3-grade 4 Dates: May 30July 28 Cost: $750 for three-week tracks ART DAY Westbury Christian School, 10420 Hillcroft St., Houston 7135518100 www.westburychristian.org/summer-camps 10 YMCA Discovery Camp The YMCA day camp experience oers games, sports, swim- ming, arts and crafts, educational activities, and other activities over the course of a week. All participants must have a $25 YMCA Impact Membership before registering for the camp. Ages: 67
how to protect them in the wild. Ages: 612 Dates: June 5Aug. 4 Cost: starts at $375 per week; children ages 1012 $500-$1,000 per week A+ DAY Houston Zoo, 6200 Hermann Park Drive, Houston 7135336739 www.houstonzoo.org/camp WEST UNIVERSITY PLACE 12 Building Brains The weekly summer camp hosted by the city of West University Place uses Lego and K’nex STEM education kits to build math and science skills. Students will build simple machines and build ne motor skills, problem solving and condence utilizing an engineering curriculum. Campers are encouraged to bring a snack and drink. Ages: 312 Dates: May 30Aug. 4 (ages 35), June 5-
HOUSTON 4 Camp Funtasy Space City Fencing School in Bellaire holds weeklong summer sessions to provide an introduction to the fundamentals and history of the sport, train- ing exercises, and games. Classes for more advanced skill levels are also oered, including tournament fencing. Ages: 6 and older Dates: June 5Aug. 18 Cost: $450 per week DAY SP Space City Fencing, 4007 Bellaire Blvd., Ste. EE, Houston 8327788745 www.spacecityfencing.com 5 Crossing Borders Two bilingual summer camps teach children a second language with fun and hands-on activities. Languages oered include Spanish, English, Mandarin and French. Ages: 46 Dates: spring break camp March 1317, sum- mer camp June 5Aug. 11 (no camp July 4) Cost: Call for pricing A+ DAY Crossing Borders International Preschool,
A+ Academics ART Arts DAY Day SP Sports
BELLAIRE 1 IDEA Lab Kids STEAM-powered week- long camps provide participants with science, engineering, arts, robotics, 3D printing, coding, programming and movie production skills. All camps utilize curriculum that enables campers to learn through inquisitive hands-on activities in math, science and critical thinking. Ages: 512 Dates: June 5-end of August Cost: Half- or full-day camps range from $200-$400 A+ DAY IDEA Lab Kids, 5410 Bellaire Blvd., Ste. A, Bellaire 8329931213 www.idealabkids.com 2 Main Street Theater Several camp op- tions are oered this summer at Main Street Theater, including in-person one- and two- week sessions at diering skill and age levels. Students can create an original play, help produce their own costumes and props, and
sharpen their skills in voice, body and imagina- tion. Camps vary by location but include Rice Village, Bellaire and Midtown options. Ages: age 4-high school Dates: June 12Aug. 18, no class July 4 Cost: $75-$525 ART DAY Main Street Theater Rice Village, 2540 Times www.mainstreettheater.com/summer-camps 3 Summer Science Camp Campers delve into science and nature-related topics through themed day camps designed with hands-on investigations, active games and inventive crafts, among other activities. Ages: 510 Dates: June 5Aug. 18 Cost: $295-$375 per week DAY Nature Discovery Center, 7112 Newcastle St., Bellaire 7136676550 www.naturediscoverycenter.org/programs Blvd., Houston 7135247998
Houston Museum of Natural Science
Kids Robotics Academy
COURTESY HOUSTON MUSEUM OF NATURAL SCIENCE
COURTESY KIDS ROBOTICS ACADEMY
2353 Rice Blvd., Houston 2814650899 www.crossingborderspreschool.com/ programs/camps
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BELLAIRE MEYERLAND WEST UNIVERSITY EDITION • MARCH 2023
History of takeovers
How it started
TEA announces plan to appoint board of managers at Houston ISD, citing the following reasons: • Board member misconduct related to alleged violations of the Open Meetings Act • Wheatley High School received failing accountability ratings for several consecutive years where no performance rating is given is not considered a break in the consec- utive streak. SB 1365 also granted the TEA more power in defining the role of a campus-level conservator, one of whom was previously appointed to oversee HISD’s Kashmere High School. In October, TEA lawyers argued to the Texas Supreme Court that SB 1365 gave them authority to move forward with the takeover, an argument that prevailed in getting the case sent back to trial court. Bettencourt said he was not advo- cating for or against a TEA takeover, but would support the TEA in its ulti- mate decision on how to proceed. “Three years ago, I think it was obvious to everybody what needed to happen,” he said. “Three years later, it might be less obvious, but the ques- tion remains: what’s the best for the Following the Supreme Court’s deci- sion, HISD Superintendent Millard House II spoke on what he said were improvements in academic perfor- mance since the case first began. The TEA suspended the use of its A-F school rating system for the 2019- 20 school year because of the coro- navirus pandemic, which saw school district’s across the state shift to a vir- tual learning model. However, ratings were brought back in the 2021-22 school year, and HISD received an overall rating of 88 out of 100. More importantly, Wheatley High School received a passing rating of 78 out of 100, breaking the streak of fail- ing grades. The day of the Supreme Court deci- sion, Traci Latson, a 26-year teacher with HISD, said she fielded calls throughout the day from her con- cerned colleagues. In addition to ques- tions about what it could mean for their students, teachers also asked if they should think about applying for jobs at other districts, she said. “HISD worked so hard last year to become one of the most competitive districts in the region; we still started COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM district and its students?” Making improvements
The Texas Education Agency first announced its intentions to take over Houston ISD in 2019.
The Texas Education Agency has intervened in several Greater-Houston area school districts since 2012, though none were as large as Houston ISD, which serves more than 190,000 students. El Paso ISD Enrollment at time of takeover: 63,210 When: 2012 Why: result of investigation into cheating scandal What happened: school board replaced by board of managers in 2013, elected trustees return over next few years
it was unclear what a state takeover could look like. A look back The TEA notified HISD in Novem- ber 2019 that it planned to lower the district’s accreditation status and appoint a board of managers in a report that argued the elected school board demonstrated the inability to appro- priately govern. The report alleged several board members violated a state open meet- ings law by having conversations about an ongoing superintendent search without notifying the public. In a 2019 letter from Morath to Grenita Lathan, HISD’s superintendent at the time, the TEA commissioner also said their investigation found board mem- bers in violation of contract procure- ment rules. A trial court judge granted HISD an injunction in January 2020, tem- porarily stopping the takeover. That injunction was upheld by an appellate court in February 2021, at which time the TEA appealed the decision to the Texas Supreme Court. A crucial development in the case took place during the 2021 Texas legis- lative session with the passing of Sen- ate Bill 1365. Authored by Bettencourt, the bill amended the laws dictating when the TEA has the authority to take over a school district and appoint its own board of managers. HISD’s Wheatley High School received unacceptable performance ratings seven times between the 2010- 11 and 2018-19 school year. It did not receive a rating for the 2011-12 school year after the state adopted a new accountability system and for the 2017- 18 school year, during which campuses directly affected by Hurricane Harvey were not given ratings. The A-F system takes student achievement, school progress and closing achievement gaps into consideration. When SB 1365 was signed into law, it clarified that the TEA could appoint a board of managers when a campus has unacceptable ratings for five con- secutive school years, and that a year
North Forest ISD
Enrollment at time of takeover: 6,689 When: 2011 Why: academic failure, financial mismanagement What happened: district merged into HISD to start 2013-14 school year
Enrollment at time of takeover: 19,875 When: 2014 Why: financial and leadership concerns What happened: district still exists, members of board of managers have been gradually replaced by elected trustees over time
La Marque ISD
Enrollment at time of takeover: 2,284 When: 2015 Why: academic and financial accountability concerns What happened: district merged with Texas City ISD in 2016
First three years: no evidence that takeovers improve academic performance Three to six years out: improvements were not significant enough to draw conclusions about takeover effectiveness Across the nation A study by researchers at Brown University analyzed 35 school district takeovers by state governments across the U.S. between 2011-16. The study found:
SOURCES: TEXAS EDUCATION AGENCY, BROWN UNIVERSITY/COMMUNITY IMPACT
voting power from local residents and ultimately hurt students and teachers in a district that is still trying to recover from learning loss caused by the coro- navirus pandemic. “My school and district are not perfect, but this is not the solution,” said Elizabeth Rodriguez, a senior at Northside High School, during a Feb. 2 event protesting the takeover. Meanwhile, Houston ISD officials said their legal team is reviewing the case and its next options, while the TEA has not publicly commented on the ruling. As of press time, Feb. 27,
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a much needed step to … return the case to the intent of the Leg- islature back to having a con- servator take additional steps to help improve public education in school districts,” state Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, said in a statement. However, public education advocates in the Houston area are calling on lawmakers to speak out against a potential takeover, which they said would remove
Appellate court upholds injunction, TEA appeals case to Texas Supreme Court February 2021
State judge grants injunction, blocking TEA from taking over HISD January 2020
Senate Bill 1365 is signed into law, changing threshold for state intervention in school districts September 2021
TEA gives HISD a B accountability rating, while Wheatley High School earns a C August 2022
Texas Supreme Court vacates injunction, clearing way for TEA takeover January 2023
Coronavirus pandemic hits, leading TEA to suspend accountability ratings as districts adjust to virtual learning
Wheatley High School now triggers potential takeover
SOURCES: TEXAS EDUCATION AGENCY, HOUSTON ISD, TEXAS SUPREME COURT/COMMUNITY IMPACT
the school year with over 800 [teacher] vacancies,” Latson said. “The TEA takeover will destabilize and hinder HISD’s ability to maintain and employ highly certified teachers.” Latson was one of several speakers at a Feb. 2 rally against the TEA take- over hosted outside HISD’s administra- tive building by the public education advocacy group Community Voices for Public Education. Rodriguez also spoke at the event, expressing concern that a TEA takeover would mean an even greater emphasis on standard- ized testing. “We are not just test scores; we are students who need to be heard,” Rodriguez said. “Instead of the take- over, teachers should be paid more adequately so they don’t have to strug- gle to make ends meet when teaching future generations.” Research released in May 2021 by Brown University analyzed 35 district
takeovers across the U.S. between 2011-16. Researchers said they found no evidence takeovers improve aca- demic performance in the first three years, and improvements from three to six years out were too small to draw any specific conclusions about whether the takeover was effective. District 145 state Rep. Christina Morales—a Democrat who represents parts of Houston’s Greater Heights and Northside communities—said a state takeover represents a loss of local con- trol for HISD voters. “How does the commissioner know what our kids need here in Houston?” she said. “State control removes our ability to have a voice in our schools, and state takeovers do not improve academic assessments.”
What about Wheatley? Part of the state’s case for intervention at Houston ISD related to unacceptable academic performance ratings at Wheatley High School. However, Wheatley received a passing grade for the 2021-22 school year.
School progress Closing the gaps
NOTE: THE TEXAS EDUCATION AGENCY SUSPENDED USE OF SCHOOL RATINGS DURING THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC FOR THE 2019-20 AND 2020-21 SCHOOL YEARS.
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SOURCE: TEXAS EDUCATION AGENCY/COMMUNITY IMPACT
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BELLAIRE - MEYERLAND - WEST UNIVERSITY EDITION • MARCH 2023
A broader view The Willow Waterhole Greenway can be found on more than 300 acres in southwest Houston. New trails are slated to open around the Greenway’s lakes in 2023. Meanwhile, talks are underway regarding the redevelopment of nearly 29 acres of nearby land formerly owned by Shell Oil. An agreement over the future of that land, renamed Energy Capital Park, could come together in 2023.
1. Westbury Lake trail Status: Construction contract approved Jan. 31 by Harris County Commissioners Court Cost: $2.7 million Funding source: Harris County Flood Control District
2. Other Greenway Trails Status: Construction to begin in spring on Triangle, Scout, Heron, Prairie and Willow lakes Cost: $10 million Funding source: Kinder Foundation, various donors
3. Energy Capital Park The 28.8-acre site is located on a plot of land formerly owned by Shell Oil on Gasmer Drive, next to the Willow Waterhold Greenway’s Westbury Lake Status: Conversations ongoing between Friends of Levitt Pavilion, city of Houston and Brays Oaks Management District Cost: To be determined Funding source: To be determined
WILLOW WATERHOLE GREENWAY
city,” Kinder Foundation President Nancy Kinder said in a statement at the time of the donation. Burhans said people donate to the Waterhole because they want to sup- port projects that mix ood control and recreation, are impressed by the work already done by volunteers, and want to bring a valuable amenity to southwest Houston. “All these other places have big parks, and they feel like southwest Houston has kind of been over- looked,” he said. Energy Capital Park Nearby, Energy Capital Park is being planned at a site that once served as a Shell Oil research and development facility in the 1950s and was pur- chased by the city of Houston in 2019. The city is partnering with the Brays Oaks Management District on deter- mining what the site could feature. District K Council Member Mar- tha Castex-Tatum said multiple open
Court approved a $2.7 million contract with MB Western Industrial Contract- ing Company at a Jan. 31 meeting for trail construction around the Willow Waterhole’s Westbury Lake. Plans call for the ood control dis- trict to build 3.5 miles of trail, includ- ing a trail around the top of the bank and an intermediary part of the lake, Burhans said. Construction, which began in February, is expected to be nished by the end of March, he said. Burhans said the conservancy has also secured funding to build trails around ve of the greenway’s other lakes, including Scout, Triangle, Heron, Prairie and Willow lakes. The roughly 8 miles of new trails will be funded with $10 million in donations, including $4 million from the Kinder Foundation. Work will start in mid- 2023 and run through 2024. “Willow Waterhole is truly a dia- mond in the rough that is poised to transform the quality of life of Hous- tonians in the southwest area of the
SOURCES: WILLOW WATERHOLE GREENSPACE CONSERVANCY, BRAYS OAKS MANAGEMENT DISTRICT COMMUNITY IMPACT
a park and ood-control facility. The waterhole’s six lakes also serve as detention ponds that can hold up to 600 million gallons of stormwater, according to the Willow Waterhole Greenspace Conservancy, the all-vol- unteer organization that has tasked itself with improving and maintaining the greenway. The various projects taking place in and around the greenway point toward a bright future for the site, said Bill Burhans, the conservancy’s conservation chair. Site investors rec- ognize its oerings, he said. “This place looks dierent than anywhere else in Houston,” Burhans said. Trail work moves forward Harris County Commissioners
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5,000-seat outdoor live music venue called Levitt Pavilion. Howard Sacks, president of the nonprot Levitt Pavilion Houston, said his group is working with the city of Houston—which owns the land— to nalize plans for the pavilion and park, an agreement for which could be reached by the end of the third quarter of 2023. The nonprot formed in 2013 with the goal of building the Levitt Pavilion, and managing and operating it once complete. “We’re excited to be close to an agreement regarding the site and its use,” Sacks said. The 291-acre Willow Waterhole Gre- enway was built by the Harris County Flood Control District in 2004 as both
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