Sugar Land - Missouri City Edition | April 2021

SUGAR LAND MISSOURI CITY EDITION

VOLUME 8, ISSUE 8  APRIL 7MAY 5, 2021

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LOCAL VOTER GUIDE 2021

Controversial median sparks protests fromMissouri City residents

IMPACTS

TRANSPORTATION

HIGHER EDUCATIONGUIDE 13

VOTER GUIDE

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Term length, limits on Missouri CityMay ballot

PROJECTIONS Pandemic A January report from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board predicted steady enrollment increases for Sugar Land- and Missouri City-area institutions through 2035. However, the coronavirus pandemic led to recent enrollment declines at higher education institutions across Texas and sharper declines at public two-year colleges. Still, the long-term eects of the pandemic on higher education are largely unknown.

201920 SYSTEM ENROLLMENT

PROJECTED 202035 SYSTEM ENROLLMENT

University of Houston +2% University of Houston +40.7% Houston Community College -23.4% Houston Community College +28.3% Texas State Technical College +28.7% Texas State Technical College +14.9% Wharton County Junior College -11.3% Wharton County Junior College +25.6%

BY CLAIRE SHOOP

Missouri City voters will be asked during the May 1 election whether they support nine amendments to the city’s charter, which outlines how the city’s govern- ment is structured as well as its rules and procedures. Council Member Jerey Boney said the charter amendments proposed this election cycle bring the city’s charter up to date and strengthen the way the city is governed. “Many of the things that you see as amendments that will be on this ballot for May are just to shore up our infrastructure and make sure that we have all of our ducks in a row in a way that we can know without a shadow of a doubt ... that there’s transparency and CONTINUED ON 23

SOURCE: TEXAS HIGHER EDUCATION COORDINATING BOARDCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

Higher education perseveres Despite hurdles, local institutions continue to recruit, graduate students

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3 YEARS

Charter amendments on the ballot

Proposed City Council terms Last charter amendment election

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2017

BY LAURA AEBI & CLAIRE SHOOP

enrollment trends for higher education institutions. Across the nation, nearly 22% fewer students from the graduating class of 2020 immediately enrolled in college after graduation compared to the class of 2019, according to a report by The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. The measurable changes in local enrollment are accompanied by innovative programing and exible course oerings necessitated by the COVID-19 pan- demic but come with a social and nancial cost. CONTINUED ON 14

Proposed consecutive term limit

SugarLandandMissouri Cityareahigher education ocials agree there is no one-size-ts-all solution to educating students amid what Harrison Keller, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board commissioner, called “the biggest disruption to higher education” sinceWorldWar II. This disruption has caused enrollment to drop statewide by 3.4%—however, both the University of Houston at Sugar Land and Texas State Technical College in Fort Bend County are bucking nationwide

SOURCE: CITY OF MISSOURI CITYCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

“WE JUSTWANT TO ENCOURAGE EVERYONE TOGET OUT AND EXPRESS THEIRRIGHT TOVOTE BECAUSE AT THE ENDOF THE DAY, WEWANT TOHEAR FROMTHEM.” COUNCIL MEMBER JEFFREY BONEY

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We live in an age of ultra convenience. We can take care of banking, shopping, and travel arrangements any time of the day or night. But taking care of our health is not so easy. It used to be that the only place you could get 24 hour-seven day a week outpatient care was in an emergency room. Regular doctors appointments have always been during weekday work hours. Covid-19 helped introduce us all to telemedicine making “care from your couch” a possibility but there is still a lot of care that must be received in person like examinations, procedures, radiography, and laboratory testing. In an effort to address not only convenience but cost as well, Next Level Urgent Care has launched several new formats that promise to make health care easier to obtain. Working with area employers, Next Level now has several “unlimited care” memberships that allow employees to receive care 7 days per week at any of our 17+ locations in the Greater Houston area for no out of pocket cost to the patient. Whether an employer is interested in providing a basic urgent care membership to supplement the plans they already provide, an urgent care/ telemedicine membership to cover care 24 hours per day, or a package that includes all levels of basic care including preventive care and primary care, Next Level has a program that is right for any business.

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SUGAR LAND - MISSOURI CITY EDITION • APRIL 2021

WHAT DO HIPS, KNEES, AND ELBOWS HAVE TO DO WITH GOING ONE-ON-ONE? EVERYTHING.

If a bone, joint, or muscle condition is keeping you on the sidelines, St. Luke's Health can help get you back in the game of life. There’s nothing like a game of one-on-one…if your joints feel up to it. Remember, orthopedic pain doesn’t get better by waiting. It’s all about doing something now. And we can. Our specialists can address any bone or joint issue, from your neck to your toes. And it’s all done by treating you the way you want to be treated, one-on-one. Now’s the time to break free, be brave.

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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

FROMAMY: Nothing says “community involvement” like becoming an educated voter in your local city and school board elections. This can be an arduous task when there are many candidates, but we have compiled a concise guide to help you know what you can vote on and who is on the ballot. Check out Page 17 for candidate Q&A’s and a sample ballot. Amy Martinez, 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.

FROMLAURA: In our April issue, we have coverage from four higher education institutions’ local campuses: University of Houston, Houston Community College, Texas State Technical College and Wharton County Junior College. While there are many options for continuing education, we wanted to put the spotlight on the interesting programs we have in our own backyard and how they have navigated the pandemic. Laura Aebi, EDITOR

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SUGAR LAND  MISSOURI CITY EDITION • APRIL 2021

IMPACTS

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

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4 Manal Sweets held its grand opening at 5800 New Territory Blvd., Sugar Land, on March 21. Located inside of Al Rabba World Food, Manal Sweets oers a vari- ety of desserts, such as cake and cookies. It also oers catering services, custom cakes for all occasions and free samples. 281-902-2678. www.facebook.com/ Manal-Sweets-100314098797105 5 Hummingbird Montessori , a preschool for children ages 6 weeks to 6 years, opened at the Shops in Riverstone shop- ping center on March 15 and is now hosting tours of its facility for parents. Located at 17018 University Blvd., Sugar Land, the Montessori school is infused with many traditional aspects and oers a play-based after-school program. 832-857-4190. www.myhummingbirdschool.com 6 Right Mentality Mental Health and Wellness PLLC held a ribbon-cutting for a new location at 800 Bonaventure Way, Ste. 116, Sugar Land, on Jan. 23. Owned by Jessica Walden-Glass, the practice has ve therapists who provide individual, couples and family counseling to assist with depres- sion, anxiety, trauma, anger management and substance use. 832-757-5856. www.rightmentalitypllc.com 7 Jellos Liquor held a grand opening Feb. 27 for a new location at 16661 W. Airport Blvd., Sugar Land. The liquor store sells a variety of beer, wine and spirits alongside mixers, sodas and other bever- age supplies. Jellos Liquor is planning to open another area location at 4225 Sienna Parkway, Missouri City, in late April. 281-302-5761. www.jellosgroup.com

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NOWOPEN 1 Beard Papa’s —a cream pu store— held a grand opening for its third Hous- ton-area location on March 13 at 3516 Hwy. 6, Sugar Land. At Beard Papa’s, patrons rst pick a cream pu shell from options such as chocolate, green tea, honey butter and strawberry and then select either vanilla, green tea or choco- late lling. The franchise began in Japan in 1999 and has since expanded to more than 400 stores across 15 countries. 281-302-5289. www.beardpapas.com

2 Uncorked: Daiquiris &More held its soft opening at the end of March. Located at 5211 Hwy. 6, Ste. F, Missouri City, the daiquiri bar oers a variety of both frozen and on-the-rocks drinks made using alco- hol derived and fermented from oranges and other types of citrus fruits. The drinks, which come in avors such as peach, straw- berry and pina colada, can be enjoyed at the daiquiri bar or be made to go. Uncorked also oers traditional mixed drinks and a variety of wines. Sta also plans to add craft beer options in the future. 832-539-1445. www.daiquirisandmore.com

3 Gyro King held a grand opening cel- ebration for its newest location at 2587 Town Center Blvd. N., Ste. N, Sugar Land, on April 4. Gyro King, which currently has ve other Houston-area locations, serves six dierent types of gyro, including lamb, chicken, sh and falafel. Its menu also features a variety of combo platters consisting of a choice of protein over rice as well as eight salad options made from romaine lettuce, onion, cucumbers and a choice of protein. The halal restaurant has been operating since its soft opening March 11. 832-500-4896. www.gyroking.com

    

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

COMPILED BY LAURA AEBI & CLAIRE SHOOP

NEWOWNERSHIP 12 Auto Max Automotive , located at 3007 Texas Parkway, Missouri City, came under new ownership at the beginning of 2021, according to the business’s new own- er, Arthur Garner and manager Blake Lewis. The car mechanic shop oers inspections, oil changes, transmission and suspension repair, and body work. 281-835-8000. www.automaxautomotivetx.com ANNIVERSARIES 13 Hope for Three , a Fort Bend Coun- ty nonprot, will recognize its 10-year anniversary in April, which is the month globally dedicated to autism awareness. The organization is located at 12808 W. Airport Blvd., Ste. 375, Sugar Land, and was established to raise community awareness and provide resources and nancial support to families with children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. 281-245-0640. www.hopeforthree.org 14 Gr8 Guns will be celebrating its one-year anniversary April 27. The retail store, which also oers remote purchasing over the phone, carries a variety of guns, supplies and ammunition. Located at 5022 Hwy. 90A, Ste. S, Sugar Land, the store aims to sell rearms without condescension toward less experienced customers. 832-886-6000. www.gr8guns.com RENOVATIONS 15 La Tapatia is undergoing renovations to add outdoor seating to its restaurant located at 13574 University Blvd., Ste. 1200, Sugar Land. The covered patio is scheduled to open in mid-April. La Tapatia serves modern Mexican cuisine, featuring menu items such as enchiladas, taco plat- ters and quesadillas. 281-302-5642. www.latapatia.com CLOSINGS 16 LeBlue Cleaners located at 5405 Hwy. 6, Ste. 100, Missouri City, perma- nently closed in March. The Missouri City location featured a drive-thru and deliv- ery services. Council Member Anthony Maroulis organized an eort to return clothing at the business to members of the community. www.lebluecleaners.com

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Manal Sweets

COURTESY MANAL SWEETS

COMING SOON 8 Quick Quack Car Wash received a permit March 2 from Sugar Land City Council to build a location at the south corner of the intersection at Hwy. 90A and University Boulevard. The approx- imately 3,800-square-foot facility will oer a 114-foot-long car wash tunnel and 11 vacuuming stalls. Construction has not yet begun on the car wash, which will be adjacent to the existing Murphy Express gas station. www.dontdrivedirty.com 9 Nayaab Restaurant is planning to open in mid-April at 16100 Kensing- ton Drive, Ste. 400, Sugar Land. The Indo-Pak eatery is taking the place of Hy- derabad Biryani Hut. The restaurant will oer both dine-in and catering services. 10 Service King will open its 28th Hous- ton-area and 96th Texas location at 10215 S. Hwy. 6, Sugar Land, in April. The nearly 14,000-square-foot auto collision repair center specializes in dent removal, bumper and fender xes, and car body painting. www.serviceking.com SCHOOL NOTES 11 Fort Bend ISD students returned to Meadows Elementary School on April 5. More than $32 million was budgeted to rebuild the school, located at 12037 Pender Lane, Meadows Place, in the 2018 FBISD bond. Meadows had been hosted by Barrington Place Elementary School throughout the entirety of the rebuild, which began in the summer of 2019. While students were scheduled to return to the campus in January, the project experienced pandemic-related delays. www.fortbendisd.com

Missouri City City Council, alongwith other city leaders, participated in a “rollout” ceremony for Fire Station No. 6 onMarch 24.

CLAIRE SHOOPCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

FEATURED IMPACT IN THE NEWS Missouri City ocials, along with representatives from the Missouri City Fire and Rescue Services department , broke ground on the city’s sixth re station March 24. The $5.1 million station, which will be located at the intersection of Lake Olympia Parkway and Vicksburg Boulevard near the Parks Edge neighborhood, will be completed in a year, Council Member Jerey Boney said. “This is an exciting day for Missouri City as a whole, especially for District B,” Boney said. “I am proud to serve with a council that understands and supports the need for this re facility.” Once completed, Fire Station No. 6 will house one re engine as well as reghters, re marshals and additional sta. The two-story, 16,752-square-foot building will include an additional bay for emergency responder vehicles, sta living facilities, a kitchen, an emergency generator, storage and oce space. Sonya Brown-Marshall, the chair of the Missouri City Planning and Zoning Commission, cited increased development near the Fort Bend Parkway Toll Road, including the upcoming Amazon fulllment center. “But with new development that comes in, it also means that we need new

facilities so that not only those new subdivisions and businesses that are coming in around us have the support that they need, but also the support that the existing infrastructure needs as well,” Brown-Marshall said. While the need for a future re station was rst identied under former Fire Chief Russell Sander, who served from 2006-16, a design committee was established in 2018. Land for the re station was donated by TerraMark Ventures developer Joel Scott. Acting Fire Chief Mario Partida thanked current and former council members for their ongoing support of the project. “We’re excited about this new station and the opportunity to serve the community from this new station,” Partida said. “The addition of the station will help with our travel response times in reducing our travel distance to emergency incidents."

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

TRANSPORTATION Missouri City community opposes FM1092median

the Quail Valley ThunderbirdWest Courtyard Homes subdivision and the nearby Shell gas station. Most meeting attendees were residents of the aforementioned subdivision, whose only entrance and exit is PalmGrove Drive. Residents said the inter- section is already dicult as trac backs up from the Plantation Settlement Lane trac signal. If the medians are installed as proposed, residents will not be able to turn left onto FM 1092 fromPalm Grove Drive and will instead have tomake a right turn, cross two lanes of trac and do a U-turn at Plantation Settlement Lane, residents said. Further- more, when returning to the neighborhood coming southbound, residents will have to do another U-turn at Township Lane. Many residents also took issue with the 10-year-old trac data from the report and saidmore recent data shows there have been fewer accidents along the corridor, including just one at the PalmGrove Drive intersection in scal year 2019-20. Missouri City Council Member Anthony Maroulis called to delay the project to protect local businesses. “Installing the median at this time will only harm businesses. ... If those businesses are already on the cusp of closing, this will denitely close themdown,” Maroulis said. Semora said TxDOT would look at concerns raised for possible proposal adjustments. The project, originally slated for April, has been delayed until June to allow for public input.

EXITING PALM GROVE DRIVE There would be no left turn out of Palm Grove Drive. Drivers would have to turn right and travel about 250 feet to U-turn at the light on Plantation Settlement Lane. The median would prevent left turns while entering or exiting Palm Grove Drive.

BARRIERS TO ENTRY

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BY CLAIRE SHOOP

About three dozenMissouri City residents and City Council members gatheredMarch 17 at the Missouri City Community Center to speak largely against a proposed project to add a center median along the length of FM 1092, also known as Murphy Road. William Semora, the Fort Bend County-area engineer with the Texas Department of Transporta- tion, said the $4.2 million project is funded as part of TxDOT’s Road Zero initiative, which aims to stop Texas trac deaths by 2050. The installation of a median along FM 1092 was recommended in a 2011 study, which foundmedians would help reduce crash rates and improve trac ow on FM 1092. “The department is geared to work with the community to do what we can to obtain both of our goals—community satisfaction and also the highest level of safety,” Semora said. The median would span fromHwy. 59 to Hwy. 6

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SUGAR LAND  MISSOURI CITY EDITION • APRIL 2021

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

GUIDE

Four local higher education leaders discuss goals & accomplishments

2 0 2 1 H I G H E R E D U C AT I O N G U I D E

COMPILED BY LAURA AEBI

ANSWERS HAVE BEEN EDITED FOR LENGTH AND CLARITY.

WHARTONCOUNTYJUNIORCOLLEGE

TEXAS STATE TECHNICAL COLLEGE IN FORT BEND COUNTY

In addition to our rapid change to online instruction, [our] student service oces have been quick to respond by incorporating relevant, timely, and future-focused services, ensuring virtual access throughout the pandemic. Online scheduling, paperless processes, Zoom, and real-time webchats have all stemmed from sta rising to meet students’ needs in this rapidly changing environment. WCJC was recently awarded a Title V grant that will WHAT IS A RECENT POLICY, INITIATIVE, PROGRAMOR ACCOMPLISHMENT ATWCJC THAT YOUARE EXCITEDABOUT?

Even during the pandemic, TSTC is investing in growth opportunities. Over the past several months, the Fort Bend campus has doubled its student capacity—growing from 700 to approximately 1,400 students. The growth has been in the welding, electrical line worker, H-VAC, robotics, and electrical power and controls [programs]. Four of these programs oer a ‘money-back-guarantee’ from TSTC. In the welding, diesel, electrical power and WHAT IS A RECENT POLICY, INITIATIVE, PROGRAMOR ACCOMPLISHMENT AT TSTC THAT YOUARE EXCITEDABOUT?

Betty McCrohan President

Randall Wooten Provost

revolutionize the way we advise, mentor, and guide students, from entering college through obtaining a career. We’re in year one of a ve-year project and are excited for these services. We have also awarded over 1,000 students with emergency grants to help them respond to the pandemic’s eects. We are proud of their dedication, and the funds have been a lifeline for many. We have also used the funds to help revitalize our IT infrastructure, student information system and distance education capabilities to allow us to better serve a virtual world.

controls, and electrical line worker programs, if within six months of graduation, you don’t have a job, TSTC will refund your tuition. That’s just how committed TSTC is to preparing you to get hired.

HOUSTON COMMUNITY COLLEGE SOUTHWEST

UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON AT SUGAR LAND

2020 was prolic is many ways, not the least of which is how we relate to each other. Last year underscored the need not only to understand and change our behavior toward one another, but to empathize as fellow human beings. At the University of Houston at Sugar Land we joined with the Fort Bend County Judge’s oce and the Fort Bend County Libraries to create the Diversity Over Division Initiative, a year-long eort to demonstrate the strength of our diverse communities. WHAT IS A RECENT POLICY, INITIATIVE, PROGRAMOR ACCOMPLISHMENT AT UH THAT YOUARE EXCITEDABOUT?

Many people have lost their jobs during the pandemic while others are putting their educations on hold. We’ve kept our focus and transitioned to online with exible in-person options. WHAT IS A RECENT POLICY, INITIATIVE, PROGRAMOR ACCOMPLISHMENT AT HCC THAT YOUARE EXCITEDABOUT?

Jay Neal Associate vice president and chief operating ocer

Madeline Burillo-Hopkins President

We’ve been pursuing grants and partnerships to create free training programs to upskill, reskill and retrain students for rewarding jobs. We’ll enhance training opportunities across HCC Southwest campuses with programs like electrical technician, air conditioning and carpentry. We’ll also oer process technology, ASL, EMS and health career programs. IT education remains our focus. HCC is the Texas’ only college to oer an associate degree in articial intelligence. We’ll broaden oerings in AI, cybersecurity, computer networking, Unix, virtual reality, and digital gaming and simulation. We’re working to get students back to continue where they left o in pursuing their associate degree or earn credits to transfer to a four-year university. We have programs at no tuition cost to qualifying students.

Our Youth Voices panel discussions brought young people together to talk about the elections, a photography contest invited images that displayed unity, book discussions brought authors of color to celebrate their stories, and our instructional site soon will be home to a large mural inspired by the spoken word poet D.E.E.P. and created by local artist Reginald Adams. This initiative has the diversity DNA of our county and our university, and is a testament to our ability to move forward together, for the benet of our region and beyond.

1 0 c a m p u s e s 1 0 0 + a w a r d s 1 0 0 , 0 0 0 + g r a d u a t e s

tstc.edu

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SUGAR LAND  MISSOURI CITY EDITION • APRIL 2021

COLLEGE YOUR WAY SAFE. FLEXIBLE. AFFORDABLE. ONLINE. ON CAMPUS. OR BOTH.

I NFORMATION TECHNOLOGY D I G ITAL COMMUN I CATION

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

EDUCATION

2 0 2 1 H I G H E R E D U C AT I O N G U I D E

Mural coming toUHat Sugar Land highlights Fort Bend County’s diversity

BY CLAIRE SHOOP

of a spoken-word poem from Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton, who served as Houston’s rst Black poet laureate. Mouton said her poem and the art piece are intended to move the conversation forward from the racial reckoning that happened last summer after George Floyd was killed in police custody. “I wish that I could say that the death of George Floyd was a stand- alone experience and that it wasn’t part of a pattern of really hard and unfair practices,” Mouton said. “We are just getting to the point where it’s not a Black problem ... but that we see it as what it is—a nationwide epidemic of racism that has to be dismantled.” Jay Neal, the associate vice president and chief operating ocer at UH at Sugar Land and UH at Katy, said the university has a moral obligation to provide a platform for

Six months after Diversity over Division was launched, a major component of the initiative is scheduled to come to life in June. The multifaceted program is a collabo- ration among Fort Bend County, the University of Houston at Sugar Land and Fort Bend County Libraries aimed at highlighting the strength found in Fort Bend County’s racial and ethnic diversity. UH at Sugar Land will soon showcase a 70-foot mural, which will be digitized and displayed in the win- dows of the school. The mural will feature work from six international artists, said Reginald Adams, artistic director for Diversity over Division. “Using artwork as a way of creat- ing some bridges between diverse cultures is a very important strategy,” said Adams, a public artist. The work will incorporate the text

“Flower of Diversity,” a mixed-media collage and acrylic paint on canvas piece by Rhonda Radford Adams, will be one of six works featured in a mural at the University of Houston at Sugar Land. (Courtesy Reginald Adams/Diversity over Division)

diversity component, so let’s go ahead and acknowledge it; let’s celebrate it; let’s maximize it for the greater good of our community,” Neal said.

important conversations about race and diversity.

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SUGAR LAND  MISSOURI CITY EDITION • APRIL 2021

HIGHER EDUCATION ENROLLMENT ECHOES FAFSA FILING Pursuing Between 45%-49% of Fort Bend ISD students had completed their Free Application for Federal Student Aid as of March 12. According to the Department of Education, this gure—which mirrors last year’s rate—is strongly correlated with actual enrollment.

the pandemic. Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order allowing for essential businesses to resume opera- tions cleared the way for the campuses to open, said John Kennedy, a eld development ocer at TSTC in Fort Bend County. Ewen said it has been hardest to maintain COVID- 19 safety protocols, such as social distancing, in some of the hands-on courses. He gave the example of a truck driving course, where multiple students and a faculty member—each wearing masks and in many cases gloves and face shields—may all be in the cab of a truck together. However, many academic programs continue to be remote. Neal said 20%-25% of classes at the UH at Sugar Land campus are in person—each of which has fewer students due to social distancing protocols. Neal said a classroom that traditionally sits 40 peo- ple now ts 15, and the larger lecture halls, which have 180 seats, now can only t about 32 students. “When you’re home and your family’s not there, your home is just a house. So when your faculty, your sta, your students are not there, these are just buildings,” Neal said. “It is not the same without our students. I, personally, miss them tremendously.” With the transition to online classes came a need for additional training for faculty and students. Before the pandemic, Ewen said about half of HCC’s faculty had never taught a course online before. “We had to do training very quickly of all of our faculty,” WCJC President Betty McCrohan said. “Training for our faculty was critical, and we didn’t have the funds really set aside to do that kind of training.” The costs associated with equipping classes with personal protective equipment required for in-per- son classes and upgraded technology necessary for remote instruction were largely oset by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, which designated more than $1.1 billion to Texas higher education. McCrohan said the federal assis- tance, combined with emergency saving funds, was paramount in making up for lost tuition revenue. “We were losing tuition and fees, so it made it very dicult for us to even balance our budget,” McCrohan said. “We’ve been saving for years for an emergency, and this was just such an emergency.” Planning for the ‘next normal’ Despite the challenges, programs at each school continued to graduate students on time and help them nd employment, leaders from each institu- tion said. Students in UH’s College of Nursing were able to earn hours needed for graduation while working for and earning money at local hospitals. This prac- tice was approved by the national nursing licensure board this summer, and College of Nursing Dean Kathryn Tart said UH was the rst nursing program in the state to implement it. “[The pandemic has] been challenging and forced us to be really innovative,” Tart said. “At the end of the day, our outcomes have been wonderful—stu- dents have graduated on time.” Despite the setbacks, a January report from the Texas Institutions of Higher Education still pro- jected higher education enrollment to grow by 13% by 2025. The same report predicts two-year colleges

FORT BEND ISD LEADS SEVERAL HOUSTONAREA DISTRICTS IN FAFSA APPLICATIONS

< 20-29% 30-39% 40-49% No Data*

KATY ISD

HOUSTON ISD

FORT BEND ISD

GULF OF MEXICO

NUMBER OF FBISD HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS' FAFSA SUBMISSIONS

FORT BEND ISD HIGH SCHOOLS Austin High School

MARCH 2020

MARCH 2021

enrollment also continued to grow at a slower rate this year—up about 3% compared to previous 10%- 15% growth year over year, said Randall Wooten, TSTC Fort Bend County campus provost. However, at Houston Community College, end- of-term enrollment was down 14% compared to last year, and current spring enrollment is down 11%, said Kurt Ewen, vice chancellor for strategy, plan- ning, and institutional eectiveness at HCC. Com- munity colleges have been hit hardest by enrollment slumps, according to national data. HCC attributes these decreases, which Ewen said are worse than what other colleges have seen, to HCC having a higher proportion of lower-income students, many of whom do not have adequate access to technology or Wi-Fi. At Wharton County Junior College, enrollment numbers have gone down approximately 12% since the pandemic began, WCJC ocials said. While the long semesters saw enrollment decrease, WCJC ocials said the summer and winter condensed minisessions have not seen signicant enrollment changes. While the format in which many college students attend their classes has evolved, TSTC saw few interruptions in in-person classes during the pan- demic, Wooten said. Since the majority of courses at the Fort Bend County campus are hands-on work- force training programs, TSTC brought all students back for in-person courses in early May 2020, save for students in the cybersecurity program. “TSTC has changed very little as far as our oer- ings, our student body, our growth,” Wooten said. “We’ve changed the way we’ve acted within the lab- oratory, but ours is just about all good news.” Obstacles, innovations Both HCC and TSTC brought students in work- force training programs back on campus early on

290 339 354 359 317 239 267 112 337 357

288 292 363 383 322 231 292

Bush High School

Clements High School Dulles High School Elkins High School Hightower High School Kempner High School Marshall High School Ridge Point High School

111

391 371

Travis High School

Willowridge High School

90

79

SOURCE: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

CONTINUED FROM 1

Monica Lee, a student in her nal semester study- ing software development at Houston Community College, said her program—like many others at local institutions—was forced to adapt quickly and work through kinks in online learning and safety protocols. “It was a curveball that we had to kind of over- come,” Lee said. “And I think we pretty much found that not only could every curveball be hit—but they can also be knocked out of the park.” Enrollment, engagement Due to expansions at UH at Sugar Land, including recently added Bauer College of Business courses and new programs at the growing College of Tech- nology, student enrollment was up 25% in spring 2021 compared to a year prior, said Jay Neal, associ- ate vice president and chief operating ocer for UH at Sugar Land. At TSTC’s Fort Bend County campus, student

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

IN PERSON VS. ONLINE Dierent local higher education institutions are oering varying approaches to in-person and online learning.

IWILLSAYTHELONGTERMCHALLENGE ISTHATTHEPANDEMICMEANSTHAT OLDERWAYSOFDOINGONLINE INSTRUCTIONORJUSTFACETOFACE INSTRUCTIONNOWHAVETOMORPH. KURT EWEN, VICE CHANCELLOR FOR STRATEGY, PLANNING, AND INSTITUTIONAL EFFECTIVENESS AT HOUSTON COMMUNITY COLLEGE

UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON AT SUGAR LAND

HOUSTON COMMUNITY COLLEGE

TEXAS STATE TECHNICAL COLLEGE

WHARTON COUNTY JUNIOR COLLEGE

Mainly online

Mainly in person

Mainly online

Mainly online

Workforce training programs are in person; most academic programs remain online.

Three percent of students enrolled at UH at Sugar Land are taking in-person classes.

Select vocational programs are in person; 75% of courses remain online.

All programs except for cybersecurity are in person.

SOURCES: HCC, WCJC, UH, TSTCCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

will play an important role in reskilling and upskill- ing Texans who have been aected by COVID-19. Additionally, Fort Bend ISD students have com- pleted the Free Application for Federal Student Aid for the 2021 school year at rates on par with previous years. There is a strong correlation between com- pleting the FAFSA and college enrollment, according to the U.S. Department of Education. TSTC, which receives funding from the state of Texas based on the salaries of students ve years after graduation, said more than 80% of their stu- dents who have graduated during the pandemic are employed. “The industry has not shut down,” Kennedy said. “There’s still a very high demand for students, and I think it will be that way for the foreseeable future, especially since the tide is nally turning on, ‘You have to go to a four-year university.’” This summer and into the fall, higher education programs in the areawill seek to bringmore students

back for in-person classes as it becomes safer to do so. Still, Ewen said the eciency found in virtual meetings, as well as some of the convenience more online courses provide students, might continue for years to come. WCJC, which held about 85% of its classes online for the fall 2020 semester, said it will continue to expand its in-person options. According to a WCJC student survey, students prefer in-person learning but are also enthusiastic about hybrid oerings. Neal said his team is already planning for what they are calling the “next normal.” “It’s exciting—a little stressful—but exciting to be planning for the future again, where it’s something positive,” Neal said. “The sooner we get the students back face to face, everybody’s happy.”

Each college received federal CARES Act funding to help pay for PPE and technology updates during the pandemic. Numbers reect the CARES Act allocation per school system. FUNDING FOR SAFETY IMPROVEMENTS

$1.14B

Texas Higher Education Emergency Relief total:

Houston Community College

$30.2M

$10.59M Texas State Technical College

University of Houston

$39.54M

Wharton County Junior College $3.28M

For more information, visit communityimpact.com .

SOURCE: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

UH.EDU/SUGARLAND 14000 University Boulevard Sugar Land, TX 77479

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SUGAR LAND  MISSOURI CITY EDITION • APRIL 2021

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

COMPILED BY CLAIRE SHOOP GUIDE L O C A L V O T E R G U I D E 2021

D A T E S T O K N O W

Registered voters in Fort Bend County can cast their ballots at any county-run vote center open during early voting and on election day. Find a full list of early and election day vote centers at www.fortbendcountytx.gov. W H E R E T O V O T E

April 19 First day of early voting April 20 Last day to apply for ballot by mail (received, not postmarked)

April 27 Last day of early voting May 1 Election day May 1 Last day to receive ballot by mail (unless late- arriving deadline applies)

* UNCONTESTED CANDIDATES ARE NOT INCLUDED ON THIS BALLOT.

S A M P L E B A L L O T

Proposition C To clarify a city manager must obtain the council’s consent to appoint, suspend or remove department directors Proposition D To require city manager compensation be supported by a council majority Proposition E To extend terms for City Council positions to three years Proposition F To limit council members to 12

consecutive years before they need a two-year break Proposition G To extend the time a city manager can transfer unencumbered appropriations by 30 days Proposition H To clarify council considering bids for bond sales applies to competitive sales only Proposition I To change the appointment date of charter review commissioners

Allison Drew Addie Heyliger* Kristen Davison Malone Rafat Ulain Jilani MISSOURI CITY PROPOSITIONS Proposition A

*Incumbent

SUGAR LAND CITY COUNCIL District 1 Suzanne Whatley Donna Molho District 4 Carol McCutcheon* Sakki Joseph

FORT BEND ISD BOARD OF TRUSTEES Position 2

Rehan Ahmed Ashish Agrawal Judy Dae Nadeem Naik Position 6 Stephanie Brown Edtrina Moss

To clarify a mayor may not act as chief administrative ocer and fulll city manager duties Proposition B To establish a one-year term for a mayor pro tem

512-232-5000 EdServices@austin.utexas.edu

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SUGAR LAND  MISSOURI CITY EDITION • APRIL 2021

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