Med center chief proposes new DeBakey High School - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Med center chief proposes new DeBakey High School

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

It is one of the top 40 public high schools in America and the pride of HISD.  Within the walls of DeBakey High School for Health Professions, you'll find students with burning ambition and the scientific skills to match.

While other HISD campuses slated for replacement are truly dilapidated, DeBakey is in pretty decent shape.  So why build a new school?  For answers, FOX 26 went to Richard Wainerdi, long-time leader of the Texas Medical Center, who has brought what could be described as the bigger, better deal to HISD's table.

"We can provide for the students an opportunity to be right in the heart of where the action is.  They can go and do laboratory work inside the institutions.  They can see the finest latest equipment.  They can meet people in health care. They can get to know what it is to be in this kind of environment for their careers," said Wainerdi.  "We love having them among us.  It's terrific."

Wainerdi proposes a straight-up trade: the current DeBakey campus in exchange for a new site just yards from the world's biggest medical center.  If voters approve money for construction, the new high school would be built atop the parking garage of the Old Shamrock Hotel, a property that's nine times more valuable than the land beneath DeBakey's current location.

"This is a fantastic idea, fantastic opportunity for students to have easy access to all the medical institutions in the Texas Medical Center," DeBakey High Principal Agnes Berry said.

HISD superintendent Terry Grier views the offer as a chance to transform a great educational experience into one that's without peer.

"Students take a step across the street and go right inside medical facilities and observe operations and shadow physicians and other experts in the medical field," Grier said.  "Name me another city in America that can say that?"

For his part, Wainerdi views the generous swap as more of a surefire investment, certain to pay exceptional human dividends in the decades of health care to come.

"They bring to us brilliant young people who are the future of what we do," Wainerdi said.  "They are amazing for us!"

If voters approve the bond proposal, $64 million will be spent to build the new DeBakey campus.

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