Q&A: Learn more about the 6 Fort Bend ISD candidates running for Position 6

Incumbent Addie Heyliger drew five challengers in the race for Fort Bend ISD board of trustees Position 6. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Incumbent Addie Heyliger drew five challengers in the race for Fort Bend ISD board of trustees Position 6. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)

Incumbent Addie Heyliger drew five challengers in the race for Fort Bend ISD board of trustees Position 6. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)



HOUSTON


* indicates incumbent

Fort Bend ISD board of trustees Position 6










Stephanie Brown



Occupation: Employed at MD Anderson Cancer Center for 21 years in the division of diagnostic imaging in the department of nuclear medicine


Top priority: My top priority is to ensure that FBISD hires the most competent and qualified superintendent for our district.






Why are you running for Fort Bend ISD board of trustees?



SB: I am running because the time has come for us to provide all of our students with 21st century learning opportunities. If elected, I will work with our new superintendent to increase the number of students afforded the opportunity to enroll in the [career and technical education] program. Also, use district resources to enhance student outcomes, instead of vendors' and developers' incomes. Lastly, I am running to return the district to the stakeholders and the parents. It is my firm belief that the board of trustees must begin to govern the district with the mindset of “we the people.”



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



SB: The biggest challenge facing Fort Bend ISD is the education gap created by the current pandemic that has adversely affected our low-socioeconomic and special education students. Therefore, I would address this issue by working hand in hand with my fellow trustees, the superintendent, his staff and community stakeholders to ensure that no student is left behind.



What could Fort Bend ISD have done better during February's extreme winter storm? If elected, what would you do help prepare the district for similar events?



SB: As a municipality, FBISD is in the business of serving children. Therefore, if I were a trustee during such a traumatic event, I would have been out front and would have galvanized my fellow trustees and superintendent to ensure the district’s facilities and resources were used to provide our families and stakeholders with adequate shelter during such a traumatic event, instead of waiting on the county to decide when and how our students and stakeholders were sheltered.



How should Fort Bend ISD plan for growth while best utilizing existing campuses?



SB: As a trustee, our role is to govern. Therefore, any decisions made regarding the way buildings are utilized are not under the purview of the board of trustees. However, if a decision is before me regarding growth that requires a board vote, I will allow the data provided by the superintendent, the staff and public data to lead my decision making process.



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



SB: No, I do not see a need for a bond next year. The district must prove itself to be better stewards of the taxpayers’ money prior to requesting more funding.



What is your vision for the future of Fort Bend ISD?



SB: My vision for the district is to bring equity, financial solvency, transparency and accountability to our stakeholders.









Edtrina Moss



Occupation: Registered nurse; director of nursing; academic evaluator; entrepreneur


Top priority: Equip all students with a global competence education to empower them to analyze information and solve local and global issues






Why are you running for Fort Bend ISD board of trustees?



EM: I want to help transform our educational system to 21st century pedagogy that includes developing critical thinking skills, encouraging collaboration and reflection, teaching using project and competency-based learning, and developing problem-solving abilities using an interdisciplinary approach in the context of learning and with real-world problems.



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



EM: Based on 2018-19 data, 40.9% of FBISD students are considered at risk of dropping out, and 43.5% are considered economically disadvantaged. [The district's] demographic makeup [is]: 27.1% African American, 26.7% Hispanic and 26.5% Asian [out] of the student population of 77,575. There is a strong association between education and life expectancy, health behaviors, employment, and income. Education is the neglected social determinant of health that we can no longer avoid. The COVID[-19] pandemic highlighted the need to redefine the type of schools we need for the future. We need to ensure learning never stops and provide inclusive education to all learners.



What could Fort Bend ISD have done better during February's extreme winter storm? If elected, what would you do help prepare the district for similar events?



EM: If many of the schools had standby generators, those schools may have been used to serve as emergency shelters for families who lost power, housing families in classrooms to help with social distancing. To prepare the district for these “never events,” I would like to see an all-encompassing emergency disaster plan that addresses weather and health disasters that is founded in scientific evidence and best practices.



How should Fort Bend ISD plan for growth while best utilizing existing campuses?



EM: Visualize growth not based only on physical limitations, walls or boundaries, but include virtual growth in education.



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



EM: Yes. The district must address the post-COVID[-19] psychological and mental health challenges facing students and provide support in addition [to] academics.



What is your vision for the future of Fort Bend ISD?



EM: My vision of Fort Bend ISD is an outcomes-driven school district that creates learners and leaders from 21st century pedagogy to critically think, analyze and problem solve real-world issues.









Allison Drew



Occupation: Enterprise data architect; psychiatric nurse


Top priority: Student growth; staff retention; school planning/utilization; districtwide program equity; social emotional support; recruitment/retention in athletics, CTE and fine arts






Why are you running for Fort Bend ISD board of trustees?



AD: I have a passion to serve our FBISD students and staff. I’ll work to close educational gaps caused by the pandemic through differentiation of learning and student support. As we prepare to choose a superintendent, I am one of only four individuals who can serve as a board officer while making this important choice for our community. It is imperative we foster respectful conversations to gather community and staff input while maintaining transparency. As a state-level leader and former FBISD board member, I’ve served in capacities which give me the experience to take the reins and hit the ground running.



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



AD: Managing change/gaps while we “get back to normal”: COVID[-19] has created a multitude of gaps in student and educator success. One of the biggest challenges our district faces is embarking upon the “road to normal” while choosing a new superintendent, adding programs to support students, and maintaining staff while encouraging and incorporating community input. As I’ve done previously as a trustee, I will continue to meet regularly with students, parents, community leaders, educators and local businesses to stay informed of needs and issues. As we make the transition back to normal, I will work with educators/staff to better understand their needs and obstacles.



What could Fort Bend ISD have done better during February's extreme winter storm? If elected, what would you do help prepare the district for similar events?



AD: Any plan for an unexpected event such as a winter storm should be flexible and keep students’ and teachers’ needs at the forefront. It should also incorporate the ability to adapt to a variety of needs. The goal should be rooted in safely getting back to normal for students, teachers and staff. Incorporating an interim robust learning environment, whether online or face-to-face, reduces change throughout the year for students, teachers and staff. Equally as important, it must address fine arts, athletics, CTE and social-emotional needs in order to support the whole student and the whole ISD staff member.



How should Fort Bend ISD plan for growth while best utilizing existing campuses?



AD: We need to continue to develop a long-term district plan that incorporates community input for growth. The district should expand efforts to utilize its distinction as a District of Innovation to ensure equity by providing advanced program options via multiple innovative models. Efforts should be made to recapture lost enrollment during the pandemic. We need to continue to explore ways to utilize online curriculum to incorporate flexible models for students and introduce both campus-based and noncampus-based innovative programs such as STEM, Microsoft and other limited vendor-offered programs.



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



AD: FBISD voters overwhelmingly passed the 2018 bond as the first part of a two-part capital investment campaign. Because of 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 board member and community servant, I serve not as a singular voice but the collective voices of all FBISD. I will rely on the sound judgment and good stewardship of the district’s Bond Oversight Committee, combined with extensive parent and community input, to decide upon any future bond proposal.



What is your vision for the future of Fort Bend ISD?



AD: I will work with educators to understand their needs and challenges in the classroom. As we move forward, emphasis should be placed upon retaining staff, mitigating change and increasing outcomes while focusing on community and staff input, fostering transparency, and making a collective effort to move our students toward optimal growth. It is important that we do not diminish our athletic, CTE and fine arts programs in the process. Our students and teachers have a tough road ahead and require a trustee that will be an inclusive voice to express the vision and ideas of our students, community and staff.









Addie Heyliger*



Occupation: Information technology manager


Top priority: Recruiting a highly qualified superintendent to lead our unique district benefiting our students, teachers, parents and community






Why are you running for Fort Bend ISD board of trustees?



AH: Since being elected in 2015 the board had transformed all low-performing schools to [Texas Education Agency] Met Standards, advanced student achievement through expanded programming and served significantly more students with special education, all while reducing the FBISD tax rate. My work is not finished. As the current board president, I am leading our board in a superintendent search, addressing the academic needs of our students following the COVID[-19] pandemic and engaging in effective team building and strategic planning to successfully take us into the next phase of FBISD.



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



AH: The biggest challenge for Fort Bend ISD at the moment is to find a new superintendent who will provide equitable educational opportunities, continue our campus-based initiative, and provide social and emotional services so that all of our children may succeed while working with us to safely transition us back to face-to-face instruction.



What could Fort Bend ISD have done better during February's extreme winter storm? If elected, what would you do help prepare the district for similar events?



AH: FBISD in anticipation of the event took steps necessary to winterize our buildings, closed our schools for safety reasons and reduced our electrical consumption. Unfortunately, the effects of the storm on our teachers' and staff’s personal homes prevented us from reopening the following Monday. Due to our successful load shedding and proactive procurement procedures, we saved the district $18 million in electric bills. We continue to learn from each weather event such as [Hurricane] Harvey, Tax Day [floods], and this winter event to better serve our students, teachers and parents.



How should Fort Bend ISD plan for growth while best utilizing existing campuses?



AH: Each year we review student enrollment reports in conjunction with a demographic report that identifies and projects student enrollment at every one of our campuses. The administration uses this information to make recommendations for effective planning and programming to make the best use of our facilities while continuing to meet the academic needs of our children, teachers and our community.



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



AH: The decision to call a bond is based upon the needs of our facility infrastructure. The superintendent and his or her staff determine whether the bond should be called and make a recommendation to the board. The passing of the bond addresses long-term capital placements such as roofs and air conditioning, which wear out over time just as they do in our own homes, and the building of new campuses or adding on or renovating existing campuses. This is why we need to focus on our new superintendent in order to determine if a bond will be needed or not.



What is your vision for the future of Fort Bend ISD?



AH: My vision for the future of Fort Bend ISD is that in the days to come, FBISD will remain focused on meeting the needs of the whole child, [and] providing equitable and challenging educational opportunity to our students. This can only happen by engaging our communities to work in partnership with our school campuses, by investing in our teachers and staff with training and competitive salaries and benefits, and by the board and superintendent working collaboratively for the benefit of all. FBISD is a great school district, and I am committed to helping make it even better.









Kristen Davison Malone



Occupation: Chief financial officer


Top priority: The superintendent search and budget development in support of community priorities will be central for school board trustees in 2021-22.






Why are you running for Fort Bend ISD board of trustees?



KDM: I am running for school board to give back to my hometown and district. I believe in FBISD and want to be a voice of the citizens. [I want] to bring positive change for the social, emotional and academic needs of all students in the district. I want to take a diplomatic approach to district issues, listen, understand and collaborate—to be a voice of the citizens.



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



KDM: We are facing a two-pronged challenge: [the] superintendent search and the gap in learning from COVID-19. Regarding the superintendent search, I would look for a strong leader that is willing to be accessible to staff, has business acumen, possesses empathy, and teaching experience would be a plus. Regarding the gap in learning, I would want to address teacher retention. We must retain our teachers in order to maintain strong leadership in the classroom so we can bridge these gaps from this last year.



What could Fort Bend ISD have done better during February's extreme winter storm? If elected, what would you do help prepare the district for similar events?



KDM: [The district should have communicated] the "why" in the decision processes that impact stakeholder’s livelihood, so the community could understand, buy-in and support the district’s decision for campus closures and movement to virtual learning. In addition, I would like to see a new emergency plan developed for special education. I have heard from many special education stakeholders with sentiments of their children being left behind. We need to ensure our special needs children receive the resources and care they need to thrive during unforeseen hardships.



How should Fort Bend ISD plan for growth while best utilizing existing campuses?



KDM: The district should evaluate various methods to utilize campuses including incorporation of block scheduling and utilizing the online learning platform asset for hybrid learning and potentially utilizing a creative approach to alternative real estate as needed.



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



KDM: There are too many unknown variables to know for certain if we do or do not need another bond to date. We still do not know the impact of COVID-19. I would want an accurate assessment to determine the needs of all our schools from school officials, teachers and from the community.



What is your vision for the future of Fort Bend ISD?



KDM: As a trustee, I will be guided by belief that individuals want the opportunity to be a part of a community and contribute in a meaningful way. A solid education provides the means to do so. Schools [should be] a place of community with the community supporting the schools and teachers, and strong teachers leading to increased student engagement, achievement and growth.









Rafat Ulain Jilani



Occupation: Licensed specialist in school psychology


Top priority: My top priority, if elected, is to facilitate a smooth transition from virtual to brick-and-mortar setting. It is crucial to enhance the sense of independence developed during synchronous learning. Meanwhile, developing a Response to Intervention system to assess and close the gaps created within the students’ social, emotional and academic skills. We have to train our parents and give them skills to facilitate students’ learning during this challenging time. We cannot afford to create more significant gaps in academic, social, emotional growth.






Why are you running for Fort Bend ISD board of trustees?



RUJ: I am running because I love my country, and I love my county where I have lived for more than three decades and raised my three children through FBISD and taught and served at all levels in ISDs throughout Texas. I believe it’s time to give back to my county and country the knowledge I have gained as a lifelong student, parent, educator and clinician. I have vast experience of being on all four sides of the table. My goal is to bring fiscal responsibility to FBISD and provide the best education for the money we spend. My ambition is to make the standard of education offered at FBISD the best in the country.



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



RUJ: The big challenge is the lack of a cohesive Response to Intervention system. Providing cohesive research-based interventions to struggling students is the key to reduce the referrals for testing for special education eligibility and discipline referrals. The regular education teachers should have the proper training to recognize and accommodate the students with learning differences and meet at their level. The second challenge that I see as a well-rounded educator is the lack of training opportunities for teachers and staff to deal with cultural diversity among students and colleagues. The teachers and staff will benefit from an increase in socioeconomical, environmental and cultural diversity training at least six hours twice a year, not just three professional development hours.



What could Fort Bend ISD have done better during February's extreme winter storm? If elected, what would you do help prepare the district for similar events?



RUJ: We cannot afford to lose more instructional hours than we already have during the pandemic. Based on each building’s infrastructure, a safety plan to minimize the damage due to inclement weather should be in place for each campus. Teachers should have some projects already in place for the kids while they are at home and not attending school [in person]. Since virtual classes have become a new norm, the school districts should not be closed for teaching and learning. Lesson plans for asynchronous learning should be in place, especially in situations like the recent extreme winter storm, which lasted for almost a week. We need to train the parents to facilitate the learning and provide them with the preventive tool in case of in-home emergencies, such as a checklist and community resources to better be better equipped to handle natural disasters. [There should be] groups within the classroom of students living within the same neighborhood. Let the groups work on projects and submit them upon return to the brick-and-mortar settings.



How should Fort Bend ISD plan for growth while best utilizing existing campuses?



RUJ: Candidate did not respond to this question.



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



RUJ: No. During the pandemic, most citizens are going through a tough time economically as the unemployment rate is sky high. Simultaneously, some of the fortunate people to have a job are not making as much as before the pandemic. Tax increases will be an extra burden on the people. It may be hard to find suitable investors due to fear of losing money rather than earning the interest due to the public not paying taxes fully on time.



What is your vision for the future of Fort Bend ISD?



RUJ: I want to see equal opportunities, access to technology and resources for all kids. Kids are our future. We have to figure out the possible needs in environment, agriculture, technology, science and many more areas in the following decades and prepare our students to meet the future needs. We need to explore different fields and have magnet programs in our schools to prepare our kids to stay ahead of the game. We need to look at each child individually and enhance their strengths and close the gaps in their areas of deficits. Teachers should facilitate learning while kids are applying knowledge in different areas of life from very early grades. It is essential to reduce “test practice” times and to teach the test. We should increase skills development, which will help the kids pass the curriculum-based, local and district assessments, and the state exams.


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.


MOST RECENT

The University of St. Thomas is a private Catholic college in Houston. It also has a microcampus in downtown Conroe. (Emma Whalen/Community Impact Newspaper)
University of St. Thomas offering free tuition to first 500 students who apply

The online degrees are in the following fields: cybersecurity, network technology, electronic technology, general business, and alcohol and drug dependency counseling.

The Texas Department of State Health Services projects a significant shortage of nurses by 2032. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Q&A: Why Texas faces a growing nursing shortage and what can be done to address it

In 2018, the state health department estimated about 11% of the demand for nurses was not able to be met, and that number is expected to rise to 16.3% by 2032.

The Sugar Land Skeeters will play its first home game as the Astros' Triple-A affiliate May 20. This comes 14 years after the city first envisioned having a minor league team in Sugar Land and after eight seasons of Atlantic League baseball at Constellation Field. (Claire Shoop/Community Impact Newspaper)
Sugar Land Skeeters' first season as Houston Astros' Triple-A affiliate expected to boost local economy

The Sugar Land Skeeters will play its first home game as the Astros' Triple-A affiliate May 20.

Richmond's Regal Grand Parkway ScreenX & RPX will reopen for normal operations May 7. (Courtesy Regal)
Richmond Regal Grand Parkway ScreenX & RPX set to resume operations

Richmond's Regal Grand Parkway ScreenX & RPX will reopen for normal operations May 7.

The Taiwanese-style drink franchise began a soft opening for its Missouri City location on April 26. (Courtesy Gong Cha)
Bubble tea shop Gong Cha opens in Missouri City's Tang City Plaza

The Taiwanese-style drink franchise began a soft opening for its Missouri City location on April 26.

Sugar Creek Health Center is a three-building, approximately 90,000-square-foot medical office complex on Hwy. 59 in Sugar Land. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Sugar Creek Health Center in Sugar Land changes ownership

Tenants at Sugar Creek Health Center provide outpatient surgery, imaging, orthopedics, women’s health, dentistry and optometry.

HTV
Houston, Harris County annual addresses no longer hosted by Greater Houston Partnership over Texas voter bill dispute

Local leaders criticized the area chamber of commerce for not taking a definitive stance on two voting access bills currently being deliberated in the Texas Legislature.

Missouri City is working on a project to extend Knight Road so it connects from McKeever Road to the Fort Bend Parkway Toll Road. (Claire Shoop/Community Impact Newspaper)
Knight Road extension project stalled in Missouri City due to eminent domain

Missouri City still needs to acquire one more parcel of land before it can move forward with constructing a new segment of Knight Road.

The new location is Chipotle's first in Magnolia. (Courtesy Chipotle Mexican Grill)
Chipotle opens in Magnolia; get a sneak peek of new Houston aquarium and more metro news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.

A train collided with an 18-wheeler near Hwy. 90A and Second Street in Richmond on May 6. (Courtesy ABC 13)
Train splits 18-wheeler carrying bottled water in Richmond

The police department has not reported injuries from the incident.

Nathan and Elise Rees fused their passions for baseball and beer when they opened Texas Leaguer Brewing in September 2017. (Photos by Claire Shoop/Community Impact Newspaper)
Baseball-themed Texas Leaguer Brewing creates family-friendly atmosphere in Missouri City

Nathan and Elise Rees fused their passions for baseball and beer when they opened Texas Leaguer Brewing in September 2017.

The business specializes in customized in-home consultations during which families will receive a fire safety plan specific to their house's floor plan and an age-appropriate, individualized plan for each family member. (Courtesy Fire Smart, LLC)
Fire Smart, LLC celebrates one year of providing fire safety education across Greater Houston area

The business specializes in customized in-home consultations during which families will receive a fire safety plan specific to their house's floor plan and an age-appropriate, individualized plan for each family member.