Q&A: Meet Allison Drew, Reggie Abraham, Denetta Williams—candidates for Fort Bend ISD board of trustees, Position 5

Early voting for the November election, when voters will elect candidates to national, statewide and local positions, begins Oct. 13. Election Day is Nov. 3.
Early voting for the November election, when voters will elect candidates to national, statewide and local positions, begins Oct. 13. Election Day is Nov. 3.

Early voting for the November election, when voters will elect candidates to national, statewide and local positions, begins Oct. 13. Election Day is Nov. 3.



HOUSTON



Fort Bend ISD board of trustees, Position 5




* indicates incumbent






Allison Drew*




Occupation: Enterprise data architect, psychiatric nurse


Experience: 13 months as an FBISD Board Member serving on the Policy Committee, Teacher of The Year Committee and Calendar Committee; Leadership TASB Member 2020 – 2021; Houston Galveston Area Council FBISD designee member; 22 years as an enterprise data architect; 15 years as a psychiatric nurse

Contact: www.vote5allison.com




What is the biggest challenge facing Fort Bend ISD, and how would you address it?



AD: School Finance: School equity and COVID-19 planning are rooted in adequate school funding. School finance is essential to plan for future growth, to utilize campuses effectively, and provide equitable programming at every campus. Last year, the Legislature passed new school funding formulas, which did not provide FBISD adequate funding for teacher salary increases and "unfunded mandates." During COVID-19, we are facing more uncertainties regarding funding. In order to continue to provide all areas of the district quality education, innovative courses, social emotional support, exemplary fine arts and athletics programs, we need to find creative ways to recapture students that attend private, charter and alternative schools while advocating to ensure more equitable and adequate school funding at the state level.



How should the district manage its response to the coronavirus pandemic and plan to reopen schools for face-to-face learning?



AD: Any plan should keep at the forefront: choice, flexibility and students and teachers needs. The plan should further incorporate the ability to supply a variety of needs. The goal of the plan should be rooted in safely getting back to normal for students, teachers and staff. We must also incorporate an interim robust learning environment whether online or face-to-face that reduces change throughout the year for student, teachers and staff. Equally as important, it must include fine arts, athletics, CTE and social emotional needs of all to continue to support the whole student and the whole ISD staff.



How should the district plan for and think about future population growth in order to best utilize existing and future campuses?



AD: We must be savvy in planning for and utilizing the district's resources for students. As a current BOT member serving on the Policy Committee this year, I was actively involved in the creation of the School Boundary Oversight Committee, which seeks parent and community input from all feeder patterns, to provide balanced input regarding school utilization and boundary changes. Additionally, we will continue to work with developers to evaluate current tracts of land in the district's portfolio not yet developed under the current bond, as well as acquire new tracts of land for schools in high-growth areas of the district.



Do you see the need for FBISD to call a bond in the next year? Why or why not?



AD: The voters in FBISD overwhelmingly passed the 2018 bond as the first part of a two-part capital investment campaign. Because of the 2018 bond funding, we can offer our students a high-quality education and equip our staff with the tools to deliver it. The COVID-19 pandemic has further impacted our funding model. As a BOT member and community servant, I serve not as a singular voice but as the voice of the collective ISD in Fort Bend. I will rely on the sound judgment and good stewardship of the district’s Bond Oversight Committee, combined with extensive parent and community input, in order to decide upon any future bond proposal.









Reggie Abraham




Occupation: Healthcare executive


Experience: 20 years






What is the biggest challenge facing Fort Bend ISD, and how would you address it?



RA: I served on a FBISD committee two years ago and had the opportunity to interact with the community at various events on a personal basis. The biggest issue voiced in these community sessions from parents was board transparency. They feel that all the decisions made by the board often happen behind closed doors. Though the board members are volunteers from the community and ran on items that matter the most by the people they represent, parents feel their message gets lost by the wayside.


If I am voted by the people of our community to be on the board of trustees I will be their voice and represent their concerns for the school district. My entire family represents FBISD and have been involved in it for decades. I am graduate of FBISD, my wife works for the Extended Day Program, and of our three children, two of my sons have graduated from FBISD and my daughter is currently a senior at Elkins High School. I hear the good, the bad, and the ugly first hand.



How should the district manage its response to the coronavirus pandemic and plan to reopen schools for face-to-face learning?



RA: First and foremost, it is imperative for the school board to follow [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and NIH guidelines. It also important to consult with state and local governments authorities for guidance. Last but not least, the board has to listen to the parents in the community to understand their comfort level. It is the safety of the children that is most important, so involvement of the parents/community for their recommendations and support is imperative.



How should the district plan for and think about future population growth in order to best utilize existing and future campuses?



RA: [The] Fort Bend ISD community approved a $992.6 million bond of which $403.4 million was allocated for new construction, rebuilds and additions. The current student population is over 76,000 and expected to grow by roughly 10,000 students by the year 2027. The community has spoken loud and clear investing in the future our students and our school district by approving the 2018 bond. I feel that the approved funding is enough to address the population growth projected. It is important to assess the current situation that would address the current conditions to appropriate adequate funding to improve current schools. This process will require sound leadership from the board and community involvement and recommendations.



Do you see the need for FBISD to call a bond in the next year? Why or why not?



RA: I do not see a need for FBISD to call for a bond next year. I feel that the amount approved in the 2018 bond is sufficient to carry FBISD forward. Obviously the situation can be reassessed in the future if and when the need arises. The board with the help of the community should appropriately allocate the funds approved, and more importantly, it is imperative to approve/disapprove these monies for projects that are adequately vetted. The community has a vested interest in our schools and the education for our children, but continuing to approve bonds has obvious tax implications and undue financial burden.









Denetta R. Williams




Occupation: Small business owner


Experience: I have a 12-year documented history of advocating on behalf of gifted, general, urban and special education students.






What is the biggest challenge facing Fort Bend ISD, and how would you address it?



DW: The biggest challenge currently facing Fort Bend ISD is the increasing number of low socioeconomic parents moving into [the] Fort Bend ISD attendance zone in search of an exceptional education for their children under the current “leadership” of [Superintendent] Charles Dupre and Charles Dupre’s willful and flagrant inability to meet the moment. Therefore, in complete contrast to my opponent, Allison Drew, I am of the belief, the willful failure of any child is reprehensible and the only resolution to remedy such disregard by those employed at the top is resignation and or termination at the first scheduled board meeting upon being sworn into office.



How should the district manage its response to the coronavirus pandemic and plan to reopen schools for face-to-face learning?



DW: The district should manage its response to the coronavirus pandemic and plan to re-open schools by allowing science and the collective credible medical profession to lead during these unprecedented times. Therefore, my stance on establishing policies and procedures regarding the pandemic will always be on the side of the experts and void of all political ideology.



How should the district plan for and think about future population growth in order to best utilize existing and future campuses?



DW: The district should hire individuals with expertise in campus utilization and urban planning. The district should then convene a group of community members to gather their collective input. The board should then proceed to take both perspectives to the public for feedback prior to rendering a final decision on the utilization of its existing campuses. Had FBISD had such a plan in place decades ago, we as a district would have been further ahead. Considering FBISD has allowed the builders to dictate which campuses failed and which campuses succeeded, FBISD is currently experiencing a two-decade stagnation of its special population student body and overall family structure.



Do you see the need for FBISD to call a bond in the next year? Why or why not?



DW: No, FBISD must began to deal with the hard truths regarding our changing income and racial demographics. Throwing money at a problem which has not been accurately assessed is worsening the problem.


By Claire Shoop
Claire joined Community Impact Newspaper in September 2019 as the reporter for the Sugar Land/Missouri City edition. She graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in May 2019 where she studied journalism, government and Arabic. While in school, Claire was a fellow for The Texas Tribune, worked for the student newspaper, The Daily Texan, and spent a semester in Washington, D.C. She enjoys playing cards with her family and listening to the Boss, Bruce Springsteen.


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