The Humble ISD board approved priorities for the 85th Texas Legislative session which includes support for full funding of pre-K for all students who meet the state eligibility requirements.
The district opposes additional funding for charter schools unless adequate funding is also provided to traditional public schools, and also opposes any state voucher plan that diverts public tax dollars to private entities or home school students with little or no academic or financial accountability to the state, taxpayers, or local communities.
Board member Robert Sitton aired his grievances and commented on what he said are unfounded rumors.
“Just so there’s no confusion in the media or in the public, we oppose any voucher program, taxpayer savings grants, or virtual vouchers that divert public funds to these private entities. To reiterate, we oppose any vouchers that divert public money....that’s all I’ve got to say.”
Keith Lapeze, another member, also chastised the public.
“Apparently, people like to invent things that this board is for or against, so I believe he (Sitton) is just making that very clear.
“This is not a political issue; we support what is best for Humble ISD,” Lapeze added while he also announced that Rep. Dan Huberty has been appointed chair of the House Public Education Committee, a position Lapeze described as “a very powerful position” and reminded everyone that it helps Humble ISD “to have a friend (in Huberty)” in what is shaping up to be a very tough legislative session. Lapeze thanked Nancy Morrison for preparing the legislative package for Humble ISD. More information can be found at http://www.humbleisd.net/Page/90832.
Some Humble parents were quick to jump on these sentiments, expressing disbelief or pointing out that what the Humble board thinks is meaningless if the state passes state-wide law.
“It doesn't matter what the board says if the laws are changed in the entire state of Texas. That being said, I hope they are making it abundantly clear to their friend Dan Huberty their feelings on the subject seeing he will be driving the School Choice train in the Ed Committee. I'd like to see a public statement to Huberty from our board saying this,” wrote one parent on Humble ISD Parents Facebook page.
The proposed 2017-2018 school calendar also proved to be a controversial agenda item. Courtney Ieva addressed the board urging them to take a closer look and propose a better calendar for next school year. Ieva cited the late August 28 start date, the imbalance of days in each semester, and issues with staff days as items that need to be addressed. She requested that the board exercise the flexibility offered by Humble ISD’s status as a District of Innovation (DOI) to improve the calendar. Humble ISD became a DOI in 2016 in order to meet TEA requirements to keep early release and late arrival intact for the 2016-17 school year. House Bill (HB) 1842 was passed in the 84th Texas Legislative Session to provide Texas school districts the option of being a DOI; with that comes exemption from certain state statutes and greater local control of decisions. Ieva referred to Forney ISD as a benchmark example of a district that recently approved a DOI calendar. The board voted to approve the 2017-8 calendar as is, because of timeliness, but Angela Conrad stated that the district will look at more innovative options for the 2018-9 calendar, with particular emphasis that the calendar be reviewed to ensure alignment with the Portrait of an Humble ISD Graduate initiative.
The board heard a presentation on a new study, the result of a committee Humble ISD assembled, named the “Dream Team.” Several meetings, comprised of students, parents, and business and community leaders, spent several months to come up with a list of recommend desirable traits for a Portrait of an Humble ISD Graduate. A video was shown highlighting team sessions, and the Dream Team’s official recommendations will be presented at the March board meeting.
Humble Middle School Principal Henry Phipps was joined by several of his students to announce that the school has been named an AVID national demonstration school. AVID, which stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination, is an elective course that prepares 6th-8th grade students for high school and college. Upon selection, the AVID student is placed into the AVID elective and into at least one Honors/Pre-AP course, with support from college tutors. Additionally, HMS was selected as a 2017 model school by the International Center for Leadership in Education (ICLE); Phipps will attend the Model Schools Conference in Tennessee this summer to showcase HMS’ bold and innovative approaches to learning.
Super Staffers Angela Hattoy, a third grade Park Lakes Elementary teacher, and Jason Watkins, health teacher and coach at Riverwood Middle School, were recognized.
The board thanked Jerri Monbaron and the Rodeo Committee for a job well done at the two February weekends for the Humble ISD BBQ Cookoff and Rodeo. The Rodeo is a major fundraiser for Humble ISD’s Education Foundation.
Finally, the hotly contested ASE/ESE rezoning issue was voted on by the board. There were pleas from parents for the board to listen to their ideas and possible solution but the board proceeded with approval. There will be two flex zone attendance boundaries that provide students in those zones the option of attending their current school or the new Elementary School 28 being built in The Groves.