Humble ISD officials urge community to contact legislators about proposed education bills

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Frustrated over education-related legislation in the 2019 state legislative session, Humble ISD officials urged community members to contact their local representatives to make their opinions heard. HISD Superintendent Elizabeth Fagen along with HISD trustee Robert Sitton voiced their concerns at the March 19 school board meeting about how the legislative session could affect the district.

Specifically, Fagen referenced recent news reports the Texas Education Agency’s State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, testing was too difficult. The article, which was first reported by Austin-based magazine Texas Monthlyasserted the STAAR—specifically the reading portion—requires students to perform above their grade level to pass.

“For me to learn that we have a STAAR test that is, for the most part, testing our children at two grade levels above their expected outcomes, I find that incredibly unfair,” Fagen said. “I feel like it’s very important that we have the conversation, we encourage our state leaders—who are very much aware of the situation—to fix the STAAR, to realign it to appropriate grade levels, to make it a fair assessment of the outcomes that we’ve all agreed are appropriate.”

Additionally, Sitton, who is chairman of the Finance Committee, said he recently discussed a newly filed school finance reform bill, House Bill 3, with legislators in Austin. The bill aims to restructure the state’s school finance system by directing $9 billion toward Texas school funding and lowering school property taxes. However, Sitton said HISD is not anticipated to receive enough funding to keep pace with the fast growth of the district.

“You’ve got some school districts out that there projected to have an increase in their state revenue upwards of 21-26 percent,” Sitton said. “And then you have Humble ISD, Katy [ISD] and Fort Bend [ISD] that have a lot of households, and their taxpayers are shouldering the burden of public education for their community, and we’re getting a 0.5-1.5 [percent increase]. Is that really fair and equitable?”

HISD officials projected the district would receive 40.85 percent of its 2019-20 revenue from the state, 55.93 percent of its revenue from local taxpayers and 3.22 percent from the federal government, according to district data from September.

Other agenda items:

  • Trustees unanimously approved a joint election agreement between HISD and the city of Humble for the May 4 election. Voters can expect to see two contested races and one uncontested race for the board of trustees. Candidates San Juanita Branham, Ryan Engolio, Nikki Roux and Robert Scarfo are running for trustee Place 2, as current trustee Keith Lapeze did not run for re-election. Meanwhile, incumbent Colin Carney and candidate Lori Twomey are running for Place 6. Incumbent Nancy Morrison, who serves as board vice president, is uncontested in the race for trustee Place 7.
  • Trustees unanimously approved a resolution to nominate Fagen for the Texas Association of School Boards’ 2019 Superintendent of the Year award. The TASB award honors administrators for achievement and excellence in public school administration, according to the district.

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Kelly Schafler
Kelly Schafler is the editor for the Lake Houston, Humble and Kingwood edition of Community Impact Newspaper, covering public education, city government, development, businesses, local events and all things community-related. Before she became editor, she was the reporter for the Conroe and Montgomery edition for a year and a half.
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