The March 21 Humble ISD Board of Trustees agenda was packed with several items, including a video promoting the new Elementary School 28, officially named Groves Elementary at this meeting.

The district also named February Super Staffers – Librarian Lisa Grayson (Shadow Forest Elementary), Margaret Lemond (Ross Sterling Middle School), and Child Nutrition Supervisor Joy Peters Oram – for going above and beyond the call of duty in their day-to-day responsibilities. Community Resource Credit Union sponsored the February awards.

Student art was a focus since March was National Youth Art Month and Rodeo Art month as well. Stacy Gower recognized several outstanding, award-winning student artists with works on display at the State Capitol and Bob Bullock Museum in Austin: Jordan Adkins, Kingwood Park High; Julianna Valle, Summer Creek High; Hogan Anderson, Greentree; Meredith Carboneau, Willow Creek; and Marissa Stone, Foster. Rodeo artists were also recognized: Caleb Divall, Eagle Springs; Kainoa Carlsward, Lakeshore; Sara Jamieson, Riverwood; Anna Pham, Kingwood High; and Paige Lockstedt, Rachael Scott, and Emily Callens, all from Kingwood Park High. Callens’ 3D sculpture was the grand champion, auctioning for an astounding $88,000.

AVID Director Sally Wagner shared news that three Humble ISD middle schools (Atascocita, Humble and Kingwood) were recognized as Sites of Distinction. AVID prepares students for success in high school, college and career readiness. Students Juan Garcia and Kira Wolridge from Kingwood and Atascocita Middle Schools, respectively, shared their AVID experiences.

The board commended Kingwood Middle brothers Phillip and Joseph Suarez, who aided an elderly neighbor who had fallen and needed medical attention.

Humble ISD high schools were recognized by the Gulf Coast Blood Center for outstanding blood drive participation; the center thanked the schools for their contribution in saving thousands of lives. Atascocita High was recognized as High School of the Year for doubling their participation this year.

Several community members addressed the board on a variety of topics. Parent Renequa Burch spoke regarding the discontinuation of the Humble Elementary dual-language program, and spoke of a change.org petition with hundreds of signatures. Phase-out of the program was a campus decision. While several campuses have ESL as well as Spanish Immersion, the dual-language program, which pairs both English- and Spanish-speaking students together, is the only one of its kind in the district. Burch said that she had spoken with an assistant superintendent who is looking into continuing the program.

Ted Mandel addressed the board with concerns about district growth and buildout of new schools. Mandel expressed concern over the district’s continued use of the same demographics firm despite their inaccurate population projections, and discussed the disparity of overcrowded and underutilized schools, suggesting that attendance zones be adjusted prior to any new build. Mandel also asked the board to address future projections of overcrowding in certain high schools, and asked why the PBK Architects' “rooftops to flower bed” comprehensive study commissioned over a year ago to drive the next 2018-9 bond decision had not been published. Mandel suggesting that town hall meetings begin in April 2017 to begin community discussion if a May 2018 bond is on the horizon. Citing various reports, Mandel also asked the board to clarify exactly how much money remains from the 2008 bond, and asked that all of these topics be placed on the April school board meeting agenda.

Robert Rehak addressed the board with comments regarding post-secondary readiness and reading scores. Rehak is a candidate for school board Position 1 and has expressed concerns about reading on his campaign site RehakForSchoolBoard.com.

Individual board member comments included Nancy Morrison’s remarks on her attendance at the TASB Leadership Academy. Morrison stated that Humble ISD offers many more class and program choices than many of the Texas charter schools. Dr. Elizabeth Fagen, superintendent, provided an update on the TEA’s controversial new A-F rating system in which Humble ISD did not fare well. Fagen commented that while the rating system is here to stay, input from Texas school administrators has guided TEA to change and improve the rating system going forward.

Committee updates included Charles Cunningham’s status of the February internal audit activities and Heath Rushing thanking Mike Seale for the finance committee’s preparation for the upcoming budget workshop. Legislative Committee Chair Morrison provided a summary of the Fast Growth Coalition, thanked Dan Huberty for championing HB21, and mentioned that SB13, a bill which would stop automatic payroll deductions for associations or union dues from teachers’ paychecks, is one to watch.

Cunningham issued a reminder about the April 7 Education Foundation gala and the board thanked Texan GMC for donating a Buick Enclave, to be awarded to Teacher of the Year at the gala.

Regarding the consent agenda, a general membership for GoPublic Gulf Coast was approved, and at Fagen’s request, the board approved 7-0 the “Portrait of a Graduate” developed by the Humble ISD Dream Team. Early recruiting and contract offers were approved for 2017-8 teachers in high-need discipline areas and campuses.

Dr. Carol Atwood presented the 2015-6 annual report on district performance, citing the 94.4 percent graduation rate and how Humble ISD fared on STAAR testing compared with the region and the state. The report also included demographic data, such as the fact that Humble ISD has more than 5,000 employees; the report is available on humbleisd.net.

Letsos was approved as a contractor for cooling tower equipment at three schools at a price tag of $2 million and for other control upgrades at two schools for $1.7 million.

Jacqueline Havelka
Author: Jacqueline HavelkaEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
I am a rocket scientist turned writer. I worked at Lockheed Martin-Johnson Space Center for many years managing experiments on the Space Station and Shuttle, and I now own my own firm, Inform Scientific, specializing in technical and medical writing and research program management. I am a contributing correspondent to The Tribune, a Kingwood resident for 12 years, and proud mom to two Aggie sons.