Candidate Q&A: Humble ISD trustee Position 1

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

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



HOUSTON



Humble ISD trustee Position 1




Responses have been edited for length and clarity.






William A. Epperson



Occupation: Recently completed a fellowship as a legal researcher; currently studying to sit for the Texas Bar Exam


Experience: worked seven years with HISD's AVID Program


Contact: N/A




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



WAE: ... Provide a robust career readiness program for students who desire trade and industrial training. ... [Improve] students' practical life application skills. ... Work with community stakeholders to develop a scholarship fund ... for [HISD students'] first semester of college. ... [Establish] technology support and resources that prepare all ... to engage in virtual and online learning. ... [Expand] required academic coursework to include the contributions of Latino Americans, African Americans and Native Americans. ...



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



WAE: The district should devote more funds to auxiliary services that address the needs of students outside of the classroom. ... [HISD] has seen an increase in economically disadvantaged students, and too often, funds have been devoted to placing many of these students in special education classes or arresting these students. This has resulted in an over representation of these students. ... HISD must commit resources to addressing childhood poverty and provide training and resources for professional development in working with diverse students.



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



WAE: From a state level, we should focus less on standardized test scores and more on a holistic approach to education. We spend too much time and money on tests that have no real bearing on how well a student will do in college or in the workforce. They are also culturally and economically biased. ... Where a child lives should not determine the quality of the education they receive. ... [Quality] education should be viewed as a right for all children. ...









Rebecca Tribo



Occupation: Hairstylist and local business owner; founder of Lake Houston Advocacy Foundation


Experience: I have lived in the district for almost all of my life and attended all schooling K-12 in HISD. I have three children that will follow the same trajectory. I have served on several boards in the area, including the nonprofit of which I am the founder and president. I care deeply for our community and all of the children seeking an education here.


Contact: 281-450-1300 or www.rebeccatribo.com




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



RT: ... [Our] Advanced Academic department is capable of providing a framework and space for all students to thrive in their areas of strength. Our district also has the opportunity to offer language programs that enhance the number of students that obtain and maintain their bilingual education. We have a responsibility to ensure that all of our students have the best opportunity to thrive post-high school. Career, college, and military readiness for every one of our high school students is a top priority for me.



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



RT: Over the past several years, our district has seen unimaginable hardship in natural disaster(s) and pandemic. Understandably, many of our resources have been prioritized in this, i.e. repairing buildings, extra technology, and new faculty members to cover the ever-changing landscape of education today. My wish is that our district can find a new normal of planned spending. I believe we need to focus on truly necessary resources to ensure personalized education for every student focusing on special programs and effective student to teacher ratios.



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



RT: I would like to see an overhaul in the way we test our students at a state level. I am not against standardized testing, as I know it gives a reference for where we are succeeding and where we need improvement. However, I think the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness test deserves a closer look; specifically the ratio between its costs and the effectiveness of its metrics.









Edgar Clayton



Candidate did not respond to requests for comment.









Robert A. Sitton*



Occupation: Financial Advisor at Edward Jones


Experience: I spent eight years as a classroom teacher in Aldine ISD, 23 years in the financial services industry and 10 years of as a trustee on the HISD board.






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



RAS: ... We have done a great job of giving teachers the freedom to teach. As we continue to collaborate with parents and students to develop their personalized learning plans, it gives all parties ownership in their respective education goals. Monitoring and potentially expanding career and technology offerings is a continuous discussion. ... How [virtual learning] looks and is delivered must rise to the same expectation as in-person learning. HISD has begun the task of developing a strong virtual academy that will provide an equal, unbiased education for all students. ...



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



RAS: I believe we have done an exceptional job with our budget. We have consistently passed a balanced budget while also dealing with natural disasters ... and two recessions within the last 10 years. We have remained student focused, while insuring we are attracting and retaining the best possible staff. Over the past 10 years, we have added over 30% in staff compensation and refunded roughly $500 million in high interest debt, saving the tax payers in excess of $100 million in ongoing debt service. ...



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



RAS: More local accountability and less control/direction from the state. This will allow local school districts to implement personalized learning plans that meet the individualized needs of all students and not rely on a singular test score. Community ownership and local accountability will keep education focused on the needs and desires of any local community. In HISD, we feel this is paramount to the success of every student in our diverse landscape. We have met with [Texas Education Commissioner] Commissioner [Mike] Morath and expressed our desire in this area. ...



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.