Fort Bend ISD students, staff to notice first day of school differences funded by $1 billion bond

Briana Conner Image
Wednesday, August 9, 2023
FBISD students, staff to notice first day of school differences funded by $1 billion bond
"This was a bond that was long overdue," said Deputy Superintendent Steve Bassett. ABC13's Briana Conner shows how it helped Fort Bend ISD campuses improve.

FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- It's the first day of school for students and staff in Fort Bend ISD.

Earlier this summer, voters in the county approved a $1.26 billion bond. That influx of cash coming in from higher property taxes is paying for major improvements some students will notice on day one.

Everyone in the district will benefit from things like upgraded technology and security, but some schools have bigger needs.

Clements, built in 1983, is one of three aging schools the district is rebuilding. The other two campuses are in Missouri City and Fort Bend Houston.

"This was a bond that was long overdue," said Deputy Superintendent Steve Bassett.

There was cracked flooring and corroded plumbing below damaged ceilings in classrooms.

The voter-approved bond in Fort Bend County means students at Briargate and Mission Bend Elementary Schools no longer have to learn in these conditions.

Chris Juntti is the district's outgoing chief operating officer.

"Obviously, research says the best thing to impact learning is a great teacher. But we also know that having the teacher have the resources they need in a building that's comfortable and works well for what they're doing educationally to deliver their curriculum is great," Juntti said.

The district is spending $94 million to rebuild both campuses tailored to the latest standards. During construction over the next two years, the Briargate student body will join Blue Ridge Elementary. Mission Bend is consolidating with Mission Glen.

The principals spent the summer reassuring the community about the future.

Veronica Roberson will be the principal of the combined Mission Bend - Glen Elementary. She said, "Our mission and vision have not changed, just our location."

They also made it a point to get input on how to preserve school history in the brand new buildings.

Sonya Evans, the Blue Ridge principal, said, "Being a Fort Bend graduate myself, I'm excited to see something innovative and new in our community. I grew up in Hunters Glen, and so for me, this is an opportunity for our students to have what they deserve in this community and to excel."

They also visited the district's newest schools to see what theirs will be like. Instead of small classrooms with cinder block walls and harsh, fluorescent light, they'll have more square footage featuring natural light and bright-colored collaborative spaces.

The features also include top-of-the line security.

Damian Viltz is the district's current chief operating officer.

"They'll definitely be getting the latest and greatest as far as fencing, window film, security vestibules, and security cameras. All that will be included in the new build," Viltz said.

It's an investment in a district-wide, long-term plan to consolidate and rebuild with equity in mind.

"We have some of the richest of the rich and some of the poorest of the poor, but all those kids deserve the great buildings and the best education we can provide them," Bassett said.

For updates on this story, follow Briana Conner on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.