Candidate Q&A's: Humble ISD trustee Position 4

Early voting runs April 19-27 for the May 1 election. (Community Impact staff)
Early voting runs April 19-27 for the May 1 election. (Community Impact staff)

Early voting runs April 19-27 for the May 1 election. (Community Impact staff)

Editor's note: This article was updated to include occupation information for candidates.


HOUSTON



Humble ISD trustee Position 4




Responses have been edited for length and clarity.






Marques A. Holmes



Occupation: Wireless Telecom Real Estate Consultant


Experience: corporate experience managing budgets in excess of $120 million, leading large-scale teams across state and local government, the Global Fortune 1000 and the scholastic sector while implementing technology solutions, medical and security risk intelligence apparatuses and telecom real estate; active within Humble ISD, teaching elementary students curriculum based on growth-mindset principles as a volunteer leadership coach; former member of Fellowship of Christian Athletes; current member of Global Outreach Community Church


Contact: 832-409-7711; www.vote4marques.com




What issues do you believe HISD needs to address in its academic program and offerings? What changes would you recommend?



MAH: The most urgent challenge HISD must face is in-person and online learning during the pandemic. HISD has been very nimble in making the switch to dual-learning environments. As we face another year of dual-learning environments, HISD must now make dual learning a standard approach to executing on its mission. Online learning must have the same experience in terms of success as in-person. That means professional training of teachers and purchase of next-level technology must happen immediately.



What part of the district's budget is overfunded or underfunded? How would you begin to address this?



MAH: I believe the district is managing the budget appropriately. However, I would like to see more focus on ways to increase teacher salaries. This will, in turn, retain top talent and attract the best and brightest to HISD. I would address this by initially forming a steering committee/focus group on ways to increase teachers' salaries through various common methods and also thinking outside of the box on how to increase this budgetary line item.



What changes should be made on the state and local levels regarding public education?



MAH: The greatest challenge we face at the state level which affects local education is the $18 billion yet to be released to our Texas schools from our state government. These funds are here to help in eliminating the gaps that have formed due to the pandemic. As stated in a previous answer, HISD's biggest challenge is in-person/online learning. These federal funds allocated to the state of Texas could assist in purchasing better technology and professional development of our teachers.









Lonnie Jackson



Occupation: Special education teacher in Spring ISD


Experience: I am an education practitioner with experience not only as a classroom teacher but a special education department chairperson and campus administrator. I've worked directly under the supervision of the Harris County Department of Education and the Texas Education Agency. I owned my own maintenance and construction business for over 40 years; was a church officer at Luke Baptist Church for almost 10 years; sponsored and coached youth league sports for 20 years; and served 10 years on the Water Control Improvement District No. 96 board.






What issues do you believe HISD needs to address in its academic program and offerings? What changes would you recommend?



LJ: I think the greatest challenge is student support services. We must make sure all students have an individualized education plan that meets their needs, areas of concerns, and strengths. Parents and students must be included in that planning and the process thereof. I would want the board to make it mandatory that all students have that plan and that it is monitored by campus leadership per grading cycle.



What part of the district's budget is overfunded or underfunded? How would you begin to address this?



LJ: Based on my limited knowledge of the budget, I'm unable to suggest any funding cuts at this time. Based on the Public Education Information Management System data I reviewed, I would strongly consider adding funding to the following programs: special education, career and technical education department, and 504 [Plan] programs.



What changes should be made on the state and local levels regarding public education?



LJ: I would support the state giving more autonomy to the districts in regards to programs funding and curriculum structure. Campus improvement plans are tailored for each campus. I believe funding needs and curriculum needs should be tailored for each campus. I would push for changes regarding this structure.









Janie Branham



Occupation: certified teacher


Experience: career educator with management, fundraising and teaching experience; currently a full-time teacher teaching both face-to-face and virtually


Contact: 281-961-1732 or www.facebook.com/janie.branham.5




What issues do you believe HISD needs to address in its academic program and offerings? What changes would you recommend?



JB: Virtual teaching is a pressing issue. The current expectations for teachers doing virtual classrooms are unrealistic. Students are failing because teachers have had classroom management and face-to-face influence taken away. Teachers are also dealing with technology that is not user-friendly. If we are going to properly education in a virtual environment, teachers have to be given the tools and influence needed to succeed in a virtual environment and be compensated appropriately.



What part of the district's budget is overfunded or underfunded? How would you begin to address this?



JB: This has been an incredibly tough year. Everyone has had to go above and beyond. For that reason, I would say that nothing is currently overfunded. I believe, however, that the new normal will force us to prioritize teaching skills even more than in the past. That will mean more funding for teachers and resources for teachers.



What changes should be made on the state and local levels regarding public education?



JB: School infrastructure is vitally important. Crowded schools have lower attendance and higher dropout rates. It is important that we have the school space needed to properly host our children. Temporary buildings should be temporary. Going forward, it will be important for the district to keep up with growing student population by providing needed new schools and infrastructure. It will be a continuous priority in the coming years.









Ken Kirchhofer



Occupation: Director of Operations at Atascocita Golf Club


Experience: I graduated from the Professional Golf Management Program and am a Professional Golfers' Association member and current director of operations for Atascocita Golf Club in Humble. I have 19 HISD student employees and employees' children under my leadership and have been involved in organizing, supporting and fundraising for HISD athletics, arts and numerous other programs since 2011.


Contact: N/A




What issues do you believe HISD needs to address in its academic program and offerings? What changes would you recommend?



KK: Providing more opportunities for English-language learners, economically disadvantaged and at-risk students. Make sure that these students can take advantage [of] these school choices. I also would have more project-based learning in grades K-8. Also, an increased ratio of special education teachers so that inclusion students can be served more effectively.



What part of the district's budget is overfunded or underfunded? How would you begin to address this?



KK: Technology seems to be underfunded. School technology should be one-to-one. Funding should be spent on more staffing instead of programs and materials.



What changes should be made on the state and local levels regarding public education?



KK: Less focus on standardized testing. More meaningful ways to show student academic growth, such as portfolios and not just multiple-choice tests. I would also like to see more focus on teacher professional development in planning time. Maybe a more flexible calendar for teacher planning days.









Chase Stevens



Occupation: Business Development Executive for Corva, a tech company


Experience: I have over 14 years of professional experience in the oil and gas industry and have attended almost every school board meeting since 2019.






What issues do you believe HISD needs to address in its academic program and offerings? What changes would you recommend?



CS: HISD has, in my opinion, a great overall academic offering for our students. With that being said, I believe there are gaps that need to be addressed with technology in our primary schools, dual-language programs over bilingual programs, primarily in the Title 1 schools, and more focus on career and technical programs in our high schools.



What part of the district's budget is overfunded or underfunded? How would you begin to address this?



CS: I can't specifically state an area that is over- or underfunded but would like to see more funding be placed in areas that need gaps filled to accomplish an equal opportunity for every student—specifically, in the areas of student safety, programs to combat bullying, dual-language programs and increased availability of CTE programs.



What changes should be made on the state and local levels regarding public education?



CS: I believe that there should be more localized governing of school systems and less state-mandated requirements. This would allow each school district to tailor their programs and curriculum to meet the needs of the communities they serve while still maintaining a high standard [of] education for every student.


By Hannah Zedaker

Editor, Spring/Klein & Lake Houston/Humble/Kingwood

Hannah joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in May 2016 after graduating with a degree in journalism from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. In March 2019, she transitioned to editor of the Spring/Klein edition and later became the editor of both the Spring/Klein and Lake Houston/Humble/Kingwood editions in June 2021. Hannah covers education, local government, transportation, business, real estate development and nonprofits in these communities. Prior to CI, Hannah served as associate editor of The Houstonian, interned with Community Impact Newspaper and spent time writing for the Sam Houston State University College of Fine Arts and Mass Communication and The Huntsville Item.