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Elementary and Primary Education
Houston Independent School District Board of Education
News Release
Thursday, February 09, 2012

HISD Board of Education Approves Houston Innovative Learning Zone Plan
Students at six schools will get career training and college degrees

The HISD Board of Education on Thursday unanimously approved a plan to draw students back into six neighborhood high schools with strong Career and Technical Education programs.

The Board endorsed the plan after hearing from several parents who voiced support for the strategic investment that will strengthen community high schools.

Students at Furr, Kashmere, Long, Scarborough, Sterling, and Booker T. Washington high schools will be able to enroll in the newly created Houston Innovative Learning Zone (HILZ) programs beginning this summer. By the time these students graduate high school, they will have earned a college associate’s degree and valuable career certifications to help them immediately land lucrative jobs in some of the region’s most in-demand professions.

The programs are specifically tailored to meet the current and future needs of Houston’s thriving industries, which include the fields of medicine, shipping, energy, manufacturing, and computer technology.

“I want to thank the administration for thinking through this,” said Board President Michael Lunceford. “Wood shop doesn’t work anymore. You have to think outside the box and I think this is the program that’s going to do that.”

Superintendent Terry Grier said the plan is the product of innovative thinking.

“This is the future of vocational technical education in this country,” Dr. Grier said. “It’s great to work with a Board of Education that has clear, great vision. … I also want to say ‘Thank you’ to Houston Community College. There is a lot of pressure on them to help us get this right and I believe they’re up to that challenge.”           

HILZ graduates will leave high school with certifications that Houston employers seek when filling high-paying job vacancies. HILZ graduates will also have 45 to 60 hours of college credit, which  will transfer to articulated programs at Texas universities, positioning HILZ graduates for success in a four-year college if they choose to forego an immediate career.

A minimum of 15 hours of college credits earned by HILZ graduates will come in core courses and will be transferable to any public Texas university.

The HILZ programs will be located at high schools that have substantial building space available for neighborhood students who have chosen to attend other HISD schools by taking advantage of the district’s open enrollment policies. Nearly 1,600 students live in neighborhoods served by the six HILZ campuses, but currently attend schools elsewhere.

“HISD’s strength lies in school choice and competition,” Dr. Grier said. “But for true choice to exist, students and their parents must trust that all neighborhood schools offer the same level of rigor as other HISD schools. This necessary investment in our neighborhood high schools shows that HISD is committed to ensuring that students don’t have to catch a bus across town to get a good education.”

Nearly $5 million in startup funds will be invested in the six schools over a four-year period. About $1.5 million of the cost will be covered by federal funds specifically designated for vocational education programs. The schools will eventually serve a combined total of 1,200 students a year at a cost of roughly $135,000 per school.

HISD’s increased focus on Career and Technical Education is already paying off for many students. The number of industry certificates earned by HISD students reached 15,160 in 2010-2011. This is nearly four times the number of certificates awarded to HISD students a year earlier, when 3,881 were issued.

Such programs are a significant component of HISD’s overall dropout prevention strategy. By offering a diverse catalog of courses and programs tailored to the specific interests of all students, HISD has seen its dropout rate reach its lowest level since Texas adopted the stringent national dropout reporting guidelines.

In addition to taking the standard core courses required of all high school students, HILZ students will take courses taught by college professors using a blend of face-to-face and online instruction. Each HILZ school would offer a technology-rich college atmosphere. In addition, these schools would aggressively pursue partnerships with businesses that match their instructional themes.

The six HILZ schools are:

The School of Electronic Engineering at Furr

The School of Electronic Engineering would provide students with the knowledge and ability for a career in electronics and information technology in the 21st Century.

Possible career options:

  • Engineer (annual salary: $92,730)
  • Operating engineers and construction equipment operator (annual salary: $32,469)
  • Instrumentation Designer (annual salary: $100,000)

The School for Process Technology at Kashmere

The School for Process Technology was developed in response to requests from local chemical and refining industries. It would provide students with training for high-skill, high-wage jobs needed in the manufacturing industry.

Possible career options:

  • Chemical technician (annual salary: $50,274)
  • Geological and petroleum technician (annual salary: $56,243)
  • Water and liquid water treatment plant and system operator (annual salary: $33,405)
  • Chemical plan and system operator (annual salary: $62,088)

The School for Pharmacy Technology at Long

The Long campus would add high school grade levels under this proposal. The School of Pharmacy Technology would prepare students for the growing pharmaceutical industry by providing them with the clinical and business skills needed to work successfully alongside pharmacists and physicians.

Possible career options:

  • Pharmacy technician (annual salary: $27,602)
  • Pharmacy aide (annual salary: $23,830)

The School for Network and Computer Administration at Scarborough

The School of Network Computer Systems Administration would prepare students for career opportunities that design, install and support computer networks.

Possible career options:

  • Computer systems analysis (annual salary: $76,731)
  • Network systems and data communications analysis (annual salary: $69,035)
  • Computer software engineer (annual salary: $90,002)
  • Network and computer systems administrator (annual salary: $67,954)

The School of Logistics and Global Supply at Sterling

The School of Logistics and Global Supply Chain Management program would provide students with the knowledge and ability to apply individual technical skills necessary to pursue a career in areas such as exporting/importing, materials handling, global transportation, warehouse and distribution center management, purchasing management, and traffic management.

Possible career options:

  • Transportation, storage, and distribution managers (annual salary: $76,814)
  • Purchasing agent (annual salary: $50,877)
  • First-line supervisor/manager (annual salary: $38,049)
  • Planning, and expediting clerks (annual salary: $67,954)

The School of Manufacturing Technology at Booker T. Washington

The School of Manufacturing Engineering Technology at Washington High School is designed to prepare students for real world manufacturing techniques including computer method, mechanical, electronic, hydraulic and pneumatic systems.

  • Manufacturing Engineering Technicians (annual salary: $46,310)
  • Electrical and electronics technician (annual salary: $53,240)
  • Mechanical Engineering Technician (annual salary 48,130)



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