Volume 21, Issue 11 - March 17, 2023

Large amounts of funding now available for new and/or upgraded K-12 facilities
By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc.

Enrollment data for K-12 school systems in the U.S. can fluctuate dramatically from year to year. Regardless of whether enrollment increases or decreases, the numbers point to demand changes and, more often than not, school officials must address growth with new construction projects.

For school districts with land-ownership portfolios, the most common approach is to construct new facilities. But, when land is not available, officials spend millions to modernize and expand existing facilities.

Along with expansion projects, school districts are also upgrading safety and security systems throughout the country. Unprecedented amounts of funding are designated for projects that reconfigure schools to create single points of entry, add cameras, alert systems that are monitored continually and more.

The federal government’s annual allocation for education for 2023 is $79.6 billion. Along with that revenue, federal funding is still available in many states from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) which allocated $122 billion for education upgrades. School officials in numerous states have tens of millions in ARPA funding still left to spend before a fast-approaching obligation deadline set for 2024. However, that combined amount of funding is far from adequate. Historical data points to an alarming fact –

K-12 spending in the past has exceeded $670 billion annually. State legislatures provide a large source of K-12 funding, and local bond elections also supply much-needed revenue for educational needs.

The fast-growing Northwest Independent School District in north Texas will ask voters to issue $2 billion in bond funding for upcoming school improvements this year. Construction of new facilities and capital improvements carries an estimated cost of $1.7 billion. That effort will deliver four new elementary schools, four early childhood centers, a new middle school and a fourth comprehensive high school.

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Harris County granted $750M for flood prevention

Harris County will receive $750 million in federal funds to prevent flooding nearly six years after Hurricane Harvey devastated the area. The funding is a shift from two years ago when the General Land Office told local leaders Harris County would not receive any federal funds for flood control. 

The money will be used to complete large-scale flood control projects that have been in the works since 2017 and to prevent future devastation. The projects will build detention ponds to hold water during flooding events and improve the flow of water in channels and bayous so floodwater can quickly pass through neighborhoods and flow into the Gulf of Mexico. The funds must be used by 2026, giving Harris County leaders a short timeline to engineer major flood solutions. 

City of San Antonio upgrading creeks, trails, mitigating flood areas

In 2021, the Bexar County Commissioners Court approved a $690 million Capital Improvements Program (CIP) that consists of 120 projects separated into categories of creeks & trails, facilities, parks, and transportation & flood control. More than 30 projects are slated to begin in 2023. 

A flood project in the Ventura Heights Subdivision in 2023 will reconstruct eight residential streets in the Crownwood Subdivision with a curb and gutter section, 4-foot sidewalks including-ADA compliant ramps and driveways. Flooding will be mitigated on the Pearsall Road Phase 1 project in 2025, which includes an expansion from an existing two‐lane roadway to a three‐lane rural roadway section with necessary operational and drainage improvements from Shepherd Road to Loop. 

Planning began in 2023 for the $7.3 million Culebra Creek Trail Extension. This extends the Leon Creek Greenwood trails and adds linkages to improve hike and bike connections for the community. Planning is also underway for the Martinez Creek Trail Connection. This $4.8 million project continues the trail improvements through the Howard West Peak Greenway Trails System along Martinez Creek extending the trail from Cincinnati Avenue to Alazán Creek at Farias Park. The San Pedro Creek Phase 4.2 project is in the planning stage and will allocate $4.6 million to extend 0.25 miles from Cesar Chavez to El Paso Street connecting Phase 1.3 and 4.2 of the San Pedro Creek Culture Park.  

The design phase is in progress for the $3.2 million zoo well replacement at the San Antonio Zoo. The Zoo currently relies on a single 70-year-old Edwards Aquifer water well for animal life support. This project will provide funding to explore the replacement or rehabilitation of the well water source. Solicitations for a contractor will be advertised in quarter two of 2023. 

Saluting Texas Lone Stars

Jacqueline Habersham

Executive Director

State Commission on Judicial Conduct

Public career highlights and education: I earned a Bachelor of Science in a dual major of political science and public administration from Florida A&M University in 1989, and a law degree from Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University in 1992. Prior to joining the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct, I served as an associate attorney at a Houston law firm. In 1994, I subsequently went into private practice. In 2001, I joined the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct. Since that time, I have served as Commission Counsel, Senior Commission Counsel and Deputy General Counsel. I became the Executive Director of the agency in February 2020.

What I like best about my public service is: The best part of being in the public service industry is the sense of being a part of something bigger than yourself. At an early age, I decided that I wanted to be become a lawyer so that I could help people and have a direct impact on the lives of others. To some degree, I have been able to fulfill that goal working at the Commission on Judicial Conduct for the past 22 years. Personally, working in public service gave me the flexibility to care for ailing parents, to have a true work, life balance and overall sense of sense of security and accomplishment that I may not have had working in the private sector.


The best advice I’ve received: My mother always told me to “Give more than you expect to receive.” This advice translates in my personal and professional life. Too often, we seek out situations that are beneficial to us and that will help propel us both personally and professionally. Internalizing the advice I received at an early age, I have learned that it’s actually within my nature to take the approach of giving more than I receive. I find joy in supporting others and creating a space for others to achieve their goals and success by focusing on building people up as opposed to tearing them down.

People might be interested to know that: Volunteerism is a true passion of mine. I dedicate a considerable amount of time and resources supporting the Austin Cocker Spaniel Rescue, a non-profit agency that facilitates the care and adoption of Cockers Spaniels who have been abandoned, surrendered and lost or found and whose owners are never identified. I am also active in my local Delta Sigma Theta Sorority alumnae chapter. I have had the opportunity to engage in public service opportunities with the Central Texas Food Bank, the Williamson County Child Advocacy Center, and St. Louis House. 

One thing I wished more people knew about the State Commission on Judicial Conduct is: The regulation of judicial conduct is critical to preserving the integrity of the judiciary and enhancing the public confidence in the judicial system. The one thing I wish more people knew about the State Commission on Judicial Conduct is that the governing authorities upon which the Commission operates does not authorize the Commission to involve itself in any particular case or matter, change a ruling, remove a judge from a case, provide legal representation or advice or award damages or monetary relief. Each complaint that is filed with the agency is thoroughly investigated.

Port of Galveston requesting $100M loan for capital improvements

Port of Galveston leaders plan to borrow up to $100 million for several capital projects included in their 20-Year Strategic Master Plan. The expansion of a West Port Cargo Complex, a proposed fourth cruise terminal at Pier 16 and improvements to the Pier 25 cruise terminal are projects critical for growth to continue at the port. 

The Master Plan, adopted in 2019, highlights $600 million worth of projects including deteriorating docks and an interior roadway. More than half of the $100 million would fund the construction of a fourth cruise terminal at Pier 16 in a proposed partnership with a cruise line company. Upgrades to Terminal 25 will accommodate a new liquefied natural gas-fueled cruise ship, which will arrive in December. Improvements include berth upgrades, roof replacement, gangway modifications and passenger area changes.

The Master Plan lists current and future development such as a $2.5 million trolley route/station extension in 2023, work on piers 16-18 for $4.5 million in 2024, sheet pile replacement at piers 27-28 in 2027 with a budget of $11.2 million and a Cruise Terminal C parking garage and ground transportation area development beginning in 2030 that totals $33 million. 

Port leaders have requested approval from the Galveston City Council to issue bonds. Both the Wharves Board of Trustees, which governs the public docks, and the City Council would have to approve a bond offering. A vote could happen as soon as April with the anticipation of securing the $100 million loan in May or early June. The port is also qualified for $44 million of the state’s $16 billion share of federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 money as partial reimbursement of the $58 million it lost when cruise lines were shut down due to COVID-19. 

(Photo: Courtesy of the Port of Galveston.)

$5.55M designated for new Dallas park and multipurpose center

The Dallas City Council has approved the transfer of $5.55 million in funding for the city’s new Forest Audelia Park and Multipurpose Center. The funds will come from the Skillman Corridor Tax Increment Financing District Fund. The project is estimated to cost $7.55 million with additional funding coming from the parks and recreation department, 2017 bond funds and the city’s American Rescue Plan Act Neighborhood Revitalization program. 

Located at 9759 Forest Lane, the Forest Audelia Project will be completed in three phases. Phase one will be the creation of the neighbor park including an enhanced playground, a basketball court and futsal court, a cross between soccer and football. Phase two will include the partial demolition and renovation of existing buildings such as a small shopping center. In the final phase, construction of the multipurpose center will begin. The building will house a cultural center, recreation center, library, police station and boxing gym. There will also be space for a yet-to-be-named education partner.

City Council approves $44 million for Nasworthy Sewer Project

The San Angelo City Council has approved $44 million in bonds for the Lake Nasworthy Sewer Project, which will reconstruct the sewer system to serve more of the community and allow for more economic growth in the lake and airport areas. 

The current system relies on a single, uncased pipeline that crosses the lake, which could cause sewage to seep into the lake should the pipeline ever fail. The new system will install two cased mains to move wastewater and provide a failsafe that would allow for uninterrupted service should one of the lines fail or require maintenance. The project is estimated to take up to two years to complete and is expected to begin early to mid-summer 2023 by utility officials. 

(Photo: Lake Nasworthy. Courtesy of Texas Water Development Board.)

Cedar Park advances new public library construction, new park opening

The Cedar Park City Council has approved two agreements to advance work on the Lakeline Park and Cedar Park Public Library construction projects. Both projects are funded through a combination of voter-approved general obligation bonds and the city's general fund.

The first agreement is a change order with a construction company to complete additional landscaping at the entrance of Lakeline Park and make safety improvements to the Riviera neighborhood sidewalk connection, among other things. The approximately $300,000 change order will be funded through the project budget. The ribbon cutting for Lakeline Park will be held on March 24. 

The second agreement is a guaranteed maximum price amendment to an existing agreement with a construction group for the construction of the new Cedar Park Public Library. The library is anticipated to open in the fall of 2024.

City council in favor of new port authority for Presidio International Bridge

The Presidio City Council voted in support of a resolution to create a new port authority to govern the international bridge. The matter will be presented to the county’s state representatives in hopes of designating the port as a special district under state law but everything is still in a preliminary stage. 

The project comes in wake of construction being greenlit again on building an additional lane. The bridge is one of the fastest growing ports of entry and is also the only port owned and operated by the Texas Department of Transportation. The pair of resolutions proposed and approved by council members and commissioners would put responsibility in the hands of a separate authority. Creating a new entity would also allow the Presidio Port of Entry to levy a toll for vehicles and pedestrians crossing the bridge. Other Texas-Mexico ports of entry are administered by private entities or special districts.

(Photo: Presidio Port of Entry. Courtesy of the city of Presidio.)

Padre Island to conduct environmental impact study for second causeway

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) will conduct an environmental impact study for a proposed secondary causeway to North Padre Island. Planning officials will begin searching for a consultant later this month. 

The decision comes after the Nueces County Commissioners Court, Corpus Christi City Council and Port Aransas City Council passed resolutions in favor of a proposal for the causeway. The proposal was included in TxDOT’s Statewide Long-Range Transportation Plan and Texas Freight Mobility Plan. 

A second causeway would ease hurricane evacuations for island residents, relieve traffic congestion, improve general traffic safety and account for project growth. 

(Photo: Queen Isabella Memorial Causeway. Courtesy of Cameron County Regional Mobility Authority.)

Fort Worth Chamber creates new economic development partnership

The Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce created the Fort Worth Economic Development Partnership, a new nonprofit to lead business recruitment and attraction for the city.

Robert Allen, president and chief executive officer of the Texas Economic Development Corporation in Austin, will lead the new organization in the same role. He is expected to start in Fort Worth on April 3. Allen has led economic development across the state since 2017.

Prieur to lead Fort Worth TPW Department

Lauren Prieur was selected as director of the Transportation & Public Works (TPW) Department for the city of Fort Worth. She has worked with the city since February 2018 and has served as interim TPW director since August 2022. Prieur has also worked for the city as the TPW senior capital projects officer-pavement management administrator and as assistant director of capital delivery. Her appointment was effective March 11.

Scharlach new Wimberly ISD director of transportation

Wimberley ISD has announced Shad Scharlach, the current Wimberly High School assistant principal, will be the new director of transportation. Scharlach has 26 years of education experience with 12 years at WISD. He has previous experience as a teacher, head basketball coach and athletic coordinator. He also founded, owned and operated a successful small recreation business for 10 years. 

WISD will begin the process of finding a new assistant principal for the high school while Scharlach transitions into his new role over the course of the spring semester. 

Roanoke gives police chief additional role

Current Roanoke police chief Jeriahme Miller will now also serve as assistant city manager. Miller will continue in his role at the Roanoke Police Department and carry on overseeing the Fire and Parks & Recreation departments. In his new role, he will work closely with City Manager Cody Petree. Miller has served as police chief since 2018. 

Neyland takes new IT strategy role at UT

The University of Texas President announced Jeff Neyland will move into a new role as the chief strategist for IT transformation, effective April 3.

Neyland joined the university in August 2020 as a consulting technology advisor to the president. In his new role, he will oversee central campus IT teams including Information Technology Services (ITS), Enterprise Business Information Technology Solutions (eBits), Data to Insights (D2I) and Academic Information Services (AIS).

Missouri City expands TIRZ 2 project capacity for water, wastewater projects

The Missouri City City Council has approved a capacity expansion for water and wastewater projects within Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone No. 2 (TIRZ 2) in the southeast part of the city. The expansion will increase total available funding from $9.5 million to $39.5 million. 

The city also approved a request to allocate $7.5 million from TIRZ 2 to water and wastewater projects which will help fund eight projects set to be completed by 2024. The TIRZ agreement will be honored until 2049.

(Photo: Map of TIRZ 2. Courtesy of the city of Missouri City.)


Gov. Greg Abbott announced these appointments and reappointments from March 10 through March 16:

Texas Board Of Physical Therapy Examiners

(all reappointed)

Manuel A. “Tony” Domenech, Ed.D., D.P.T. - Austin

Omar Palomin, P.T., D.P.T. - McAllen

Donivan Hodge - Spicewood

Texas A&M University System Board of Regents

David Baggett - Houston

John Bellinger - San Antonio

Sam Torn - Houston

Texas Tech University System Board Of Regents

Clay C. Cash - Lubbock

Tim G. Culp - Midland 

Shelley Sweatt, Ed.D. - Wichita Falls

476th District Court

Ysmael D. Fonseca, Jr. - McAllen

One-Call Board Of Texas

Sandy Galvan - San Antonio (reappointed)

Joe Canales - Frisco (reappointed)

Roberto De Leon - Corpus Christi (reappointed)

Derek Delgado - Pasadena

University Of Texas System Board of Regents

Robert Gauntt - Austin

Janiece Longoria - Houston (reappointed)

Rad Weaver - San Antonio (reappointed)

Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority Board Of Directors

Emanuel Valdez - New Braunfels (reappointed)

Robert Blaschke - Woodsboro 

John Cyrier - Lockhart

Patrick Cohoon - Boerne 

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