Humble ISD board member Keith Lapeze, invited to represent the board at the March meeting of the Kingwood Tea Party, ended up pleading for his position and those of the rest of the board.
Lapeze, who is not up for re-election, was accompanied by board member Angela Conrad, who is on the May ballot; the two alternately bragged of board accomplishments and professed confusion as to why the voting public would choose candidates other than the incumbents.
“So, there are a lot of folks running against the incumbents because they want change. I’m kind of confused about what they want changed, so I have a list of accomplishments here. I’m not trying to toot my own horn as a board member who’s been around for a long time; I just want to point these things out,” Lapeze said.
He spoke of the board’s limited authority, stating that their two main functions are the budget and supervising the superintendent. Lapeze cited several accomplishments he attributes to the board, including a balanced budget for the last six years, a bond refunding that saved taxpayers more than $100 million, and leftover funds from the 2008 bond referendum that is being used to purchase land for new schools.
“We are in great shape financially as a district, better than we have been in many years,” Lapeze said. Conrad and Lapeze said they are most proud of their accomplishment of hiring Dr. Elizabeth Fagen as Humble ISD superintendent to replace Dr. Guy Sconzo, who retired. What Conrad and Lapeze boasted of is actually the reason so many have signed up to run in the election. Thousands of parents were infuriated by the board’s handling of the hiring, particularly of Lapeze’s insensitivity to hundreds of attendees at several board meetings called to discuss the issue.
Conrad and Lapeze waded into another questionable boast when they mentioned that they are proud of the “Portrait of an Humble ISD Graduate” initiative that represents the “final product” of Humble ISD; a recommendation committee known as the Dream Team will present findings at the March 21 school board meeting. This, too, is controversial, with many commenting on social media and to The Tribune about the waste of time and money that went into this envisioning scenario with an out-of-state, costly facilitator who cut Dream Team members off mid-sentence and ignored several who pushed back on ideas presented.
Attendees tried to ask questions of the pair about the possible 2018 bond referendum, building of new schools, and school choice, but Lapeze said he couldn’t answer them because of open meetings rules. He said that since there were actually four school board members present (Charles Cunningham and Robert Sitton came unannounced), he and Conrad were limited by law as to how much they could share with the group. One attendee joked about two of the board members stepping outside so that they could get some answers, but Lapeze said it wouldn’t matter because a gentleman sitting up front was recording the meeting.
Lapeze then inferred that Humble ISD would turn into a failing district if all the incumbents were not re-elected to the board. He recited a long list of Texas districts that had failed because of ineffective board leadership, and then issued a stern warning of the importance of electing the “right” members to the board. “Imagine if you had a board that completely turned over, and then our school district started to fail. Think of what will happen to your property values. So it is critically important to make sure the current board stays in office, and to re-elect all three incumbents,” Lapeze said.
“We’ve got to retain the school board that we have, the most recognized board in the state of Texas. To suddenly abandon what we have just for the sake of change doesn’t make sense. The only change that can happen now is to go down. I just don’t get it. We’re pretty doggone good.”
The election is May 6.