The June 13 Humble ISD school board meeting began with the swearing-in ceremony for a newly elected board member. Martina Lemond Dixon was elected to Position 5.
Dixon is a former teacher and mother of four, and has served on the Humble ISD Education Foundation board. She has also served as a school board member for an American school in Abu Dhabi.
Incumbents Charles Cunningham, Angela Conrad and Robert Sitton were also sworn in by Reverend Jerry Martin. Cunningham later thanked several attendees, including Republicans Janie Branham, president of the Kingwood Area Republican Women, and Chris Parker, another Kingwood-area Republican heavily involved in the school board election. The May 2017 election became strongly partisan even though school boards by definition are nonpartisan elections. Jim and Robin Lennon, Kingwood Tea Party founders, were also in attendance, congratulating each candidate after the meeting convened.
After the swearing-in ceremony, the board reorganized, which they are required by law to do. Conrad is now president, Cunningham vice-president, Nancy Morrison secretary and Sitton parliamentarian.
Board members Brett Engelage and Heath Rushing were not present as they’ve already resigned. As a board, the group has still not publicly addressed Rushing’s vacancy, despite the fact that two board meetings have now occurred since his resignation on April 11.
During the portion of the meeting reserved for public comment, Bob Rehak, who was Sitton’s challenger for Position 1, asked about the board’s plans to fill Rushing’s seat. By law, the board cannot comment during that portion of the meeting, but later, outgoing president Keith Lapeze jokingly remarked that the board is now evenly split between three women and three women, and complimented his female board counterparts. He also stated that depending on how the board chose to fill Rushing’s position, the split might be 4/3 female/male. “I’m sure it will be addressed in the near future,” Lapeze said.
The Tribune has previously reported that the board has several options to fill Rushing’s seat: appointment, special election in November, or leave the seat vacant for six months (presumably until October). At least one board member has privately commented that the right thing to do is fill the seat by special election.
Super staffers of the month were named: Jessica Davila from Humble Elementary, Atascocita High librarian Debra Sewell and Tiffany Acton of the transportation department.
The board praised Dr. Tommy Price, who is leaving his position as deputy superintendent and chief academic officer to become superintendent of Boerne ISD. Dr. Roger Brown will likely succeed Price as the new deputy superintendent.
Humble High School 2017 graduates Jamesia Kingto and Bryan Velazquez asked the board to consider making their pilot program “Life After Graduation” a required class for all seniors. The students began this program as an after-school activity to teach relevant life skills like how to budget, how to apply for a job, and how to pay taxes. They are proposing a semester class, calling it the “new home economics course for the 21st century.” Superintendent Elizabeth Fagen and Conrad both vowed to work with the students to incorporate the concepts into the Portrait of a Graduate district initiative.
Long-anticipated facilities report released
The long-awaited $300,000 facilities study (pbk.com/media/_fbooks/Humble%20ISD%202017%20Facilities%20Assessment/#1) commissioned by the district from PBK Architects, the largest architectural firm in Houston, was finally presented. The study is a “rooftop to floors” assessment of all Humble ISD facilities, many of which are aging and in disrepair. Despite the many remarks of “if a bond election is needed,” a bond election is expected by the community in 2018, and the study will serve as a planning document to determine the monetary amount for that bond issue.
In the study, projects were given a priority rating. The report is a planning tool and the district would not necessarily implement all recommendations. Priority 1 projects are high-priority items that must be implemented to maintain safety; those projects are estimated at $69 million. Priority 2 projects are “nice to do” and highly recommended because infrastructure will have issues within 3-5 years. If the district were to implement all Priority 1 and 2 projects, the cost is estimated at $250 million. If a May 2018 bond is desired, the district must convene a bond committee composed of community members, and that first meeting would be slated for Oct. 19.
With 40 schools, Humble ISD enrolls more than 38,000 students and has over 5,000 employees, The district covers 90 square miles and includes the communities of Atascocita, Eagle Springs, Fall Creek, Humble, and Kingwood, among others. The first day of school is August 28, 2017.
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