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What’s best for Nederland: Advisory committee tours Highland Park, Langham

NEDERLAND — Highland Park Elementary principal Sissy Yeaman took members of the Nederland ISD Citizens Advisory Committee on a tour this week that showed boxes filled with files stacked up in classroom bathrooms, tight spaces for offices, leaky gym roofs and no adult bathrooms.

The CAC toured Highland Park Elementary and Langham Elementary during the second of six meetings the group has scheduled between September and February.

The committee spent about an hour touring the Highland Park campus Monday, before driving over to Langham for a presentation by members of Nederland ISD and consultant Robert Nicks.

During the tour, members were taken into classrooms, library, administration and coaches’ offices, portable buildings and the gym.

During the meeting at Langham, Assistant
Superintendent Stuart Kieschnick showed the committee pictures of “modern classrooms” and compared them to classrooms within the district.

“Mediocrity is not accepted in Nederland,” he said. “We want our test scores to be the best. When the Nederland Bulldogs take the field, they expect to win. When our band goes to competition, they expect to get superior. That’s not by accident. It’s by doing things the Nederland way. It’s hard work and parents that care.”

Kieschnick said the schools look good on the outside, but it’s what goes on inside the school that matters most.

“Right now, we are in the auditorium at Langham Elementary,” he said. “It is 80 years old. It’s clean. It’s well maintained. There is no doubt about that, but is it the best we can do in Nederland? That’s not for me to answer; it’s for you to think about and come up with as a committee.”

The newest school in the district is Nederland High School, 47 years old. According to a 2012-2013 study by the National Center for Education Statistics, the average age since the construction of the a main school building in the United States is 44 years old putting, all of the Nederland campuses older than average.

Members of the architectural firm IBI were in attendance to answer questions that any committee members might have.

The group is currently working with Bridge City ISD to get a bond and recently built schools for Deweyville and Hamshire-Fannett.

“We’re only looking at the facilities, the furniture and the equipment,” NISD Superintendent Robin Perez said. “A decision will be needed about some of our oldest campus buildings. Do we continue to spend money renovating older buildings, or do we look at new campuses and facilities? Our youngest one is 47 years old.

“You need to look at the facilities closely when we do the tours,” she said. “You need to look at how many outlets it has. How many students can we get in there? What does the furniture look like? That’s going to be the most difficult question there.”