The Baytown Chamber Today

By Tracey S. Wheeler, IOM
President & CEO

There is a very important issue facing our community today. Our school board is considering the development of a “mega school” with 9th and 10th grade campuses at Lee and GCM and the 11th and 12th grade at Sterling. There are two options – one is the “mega school” and the other is simply rezoning the high schools. The mission of GCCISD is – Goose Creek CISD develops and enhances each learner’s intellectual, social, and emotional well-being facilitated by a highly qualified team committed to Growth, Community, Collaboration, Innovation, Success and Determination. With this in mind, I hope that you will carefully consider your position and make that position known. It is not about what high school we graduated from or have alliances to, but what makes sense for the young people of our community. Operating a “mega school” effects our young people in many ways. One of those is a class ranking at graduation. With one school, there can only be one valedictorian rather than three. Colleges look at these rankings when reviewing a student’s records. How large can the drill team be, how large can the band be, and so on? On GCCISD’s website, there is a Configuration Options and FAQ Document. I encourage you to go there and review this document. We have for many years agreed that smaller schools drive student success. Has this position changed? We also have to consider the added costs associated with developing a “mega school” – one of those being transportation costs, in addition – building configurations, uniforms and more.

This issue could have long term effects on our school district and our community development. The number one questions asked when someone is looking to move to our community is about the school district.

As taxpayers and parents, we have an obligation to make ourselves aware of all issues that affect our children and that can increase our tax burden. This is not an issue to take lightly. If you carefully read the Frequently Asked Questions, there is still not enough information to make this kind of decision. We know that two of our high schools are at capacity. We also know that Robert E. Lee High School is in an area of limited growth and that the growth continues to be to the north of town. Even with the additional approximately 800 population at REL, we are probably looking at the need for even more seats in the future. What we have not seen are the numbers if we went to a “mega school”. How many of those in each school are at what level?

There are still many questions to be asked and answered. It is our hope that you will let your voices be heard concerning this and other important issues concerning our community.

Upcoming for the Chamber is the Epicurean Evening – A Taste of the Baytown Area, to be held on Thursday, March 1, 5:00 to 8:00 at the Royal Purple Tower Club. The event will feature restaurants from around the area with each of them sharing their gourmet delights. This event is open to the public and tickets are on sale for $35 each. We hope you can join us. It’s a great evening of food and fun.

Immediately following is the State of the City Luncheon to be held on Tuesday, March 6th, 11:30 at the Baytown Community Center. This is the time that the Mayor brings all of the great news concerning our community. It is a sellout crowd every year so if you have an interest, make your reservations early.

We are in the planning stages for the 73rd Annual Chairman’s Gals which is our annual changing of the gavel. Some 250 Chamber members and guests will join us for socializing, dinner and entertainment in addition to recognizing the outstanding volunteers who have made it possible to have a Chamber which is rated “outstanding” by most. The Golf Tournament follows close behind the banquet and is already about 70% sold out. The tournament will be held on Thursday, April 19th at Eagle Point Golf Club. If you are interested in any of these activities, please give us a call at 281/422-8359.

As I always say, “It’s an exciting time to be in Baytown, Texas!”