‘Vote to prepare our students for their future’
As the clock struck 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 4 at Lakeside United Methodist Church, a new chapter unfolded for Humble ISD board of trustee candidates.
Those vying for the positions initially declared his/her individual proposed policies for voters’ consideration before audience queries.
Incumbent Robert Sitton and challenger Bob Rehak, the Position 1 candidates, and Incumbent Angela Conrad and challenger Christopher Herron for Position 3 attended the forum. For Position 5, two out of the five candidates – Lohit Datta-Barua and Shawn Biazar – participated in the forum.
All candidates presented factors that impede student performance and promoted future advocacy for increased funding of education at the state and national levels and allocation of funds during their introductions.
One audience member counter-questioned the intentions of saving money on polling locations as opposed to making them more available for better voter accessibility, feeling that Conrad and Sitton highlighted the budget as more important than the voters’ voices.
Another Kingwood resident expressed dismay at the current board’s decision to have the trustees’ elections in conjunction with the City of Humble’s general election as a cost-saving measure, feeling it would prejudice the results.
Sitton pointed out that “it was on the agenda in a board meeting with the public, and the community voted to continue to align with the City of Humble. The savings to the taxpayers is tremendous.”
He stated that it costs a district roughly six figures to fund elections at all locations, but when aligned with the City of Humble, every single polling station is included so costs are shared.
Rehak agreed that he would personally be in favor of more polling places, saying more people show up for general elections because they feel they have a greater voice about how their money is spent.
Datta-Barua felt that increasing voter locations is not the solution, but that more people need “to be serious about education and come out and vote,” to which Herron followed up, saying, “There are such a small number of people deciding the future of our students. The best ideas aren’t necessarily going to come from the seven people who are motivated to run for the office.”
Financial transparency and allocation of funds by the sitting board members was questioned by contesting candidates as well as the audience.
While Datta-Barua feels that our infrastructure is sound, the “walls don’t teach,” so more funds need to be put toward education. Allocation of funds toward engaging the community through partnership programs and having more discipline-specialized schools is the solution, according to Herron.
Conrad, the current board vice president, stated that the growth of the district and outlining a comprehensive plan depends on what happens in the legislative session.
“Also, as property taxes are increasing, funding from the state is going down. So we don’t have funds to solve other problems and build new educational facilities,” said Conrad.
Rehak, however, alleged that apart from financial transparency, the current board has a communication gap and said, “more parents needed to be involved in the selection of the new superintendent.”
“Growth is coming and with it people from out of state and country,” said Biazar. He felt all the issues being faced by Humble ISD can be solved with someone in law enforcement on the board.
Undoubtedly, all candidates have multiple approaches to the prevailing outlined issues; however, taxpayers will decide the board that will best prepare children to be future global citizens.
The Tribune has published each candidate’s introductions and policies they would like to advocate for and will continue to follow the elections until Election Day.
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