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Humble school board forum – election

Posted by Texas Education on May 4, 2009

The first Humble ISD School Board Candidate Forum, was held on Tuesday, March 31, was recorded by Lone Star College-Kingwood and is now available for viewing in two locations. The Humble ISD website has a section in the middle of the main first page titled “Early voting in school board election begins April 27.” At the end of that article are two links to the first and second half of the March 31 candidate forum. The first part is 45 minutes long and the second part is one hour long.

Last Thursday night I had a hard time deciding whether to go to the second and final candidate forum, tossing whether to go or take a nap! I went! Glad I did, I learned a lot more about a couple of our candidates/board members. Keith Lapeze, lawyer, and all around great guy! He gave us some insight into his education and background. Keith received his juris doctorate from Louisiana State University. He was an executive editor of the Louisiana Law Review and graduated near the top of his class, which granted him admission into the most prestigious academic society at the law school, the Order of the Coif.

After law school, Keith clerked for a judge on the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, Louisiana.

lapezefamilyKeith is an experienced corporate defense litigator and is recognized as one of the best young lawyers in the state of Texas. He has been listed as a “Texas Rising Star” every year since the recognition was first published in Texas Monthly magazine, which is only given to the top 5% of the lawyers in Texas.

In addition to his legal experience, Keith was a member of the Louisiana Army National Guard. He served his country while an undergraduate student and received a honorable discharge at the end of his service.

For several years, Keith was a part-time professor at the University of St. Thomas.

“Since I was elected, the district has cut over $18 million dollars from the operating budget. Additionally, I played a large role in making the controversial decision to expand Atascocita High School and Summer Creek High School to put off the expense of opening another new high school. This decision will amount to an ultimate savings of over $100 million, but the cost was to defer projects approved by the voters in Bond 2005 and disregard the proposed 2,400-student limit from the 2003 High Schools of the Future Task Force. While these costs were real, I believed that it is my duty to save taxpayers money wherever I can. When reelected, I will continue my diligence.

Though we have suffered though the difficulties of cuts and financial struggles over the last three years, the district has still excelled. Student scores have continued to improve. Countless numbers of our students have received national, state, and local recognition for their achievements. We were on the cusp of being a Recognized school district last year, and the early data this year is even more promising. I believe that the working relationship between the School Board and the administration is functioning to push Humble I.S.D. to excel in its mission: to educate our students.

I have also worked with my fellow Trustees to form the dialogue with our elected officials on school finance in Texas. Recognizing that the only way to solve the current school finance crisis is through our elected representatives in Austin, district and community volunteers have formed a message that has now been heard far and wide. We can only hope that our officials will take action.

The last three years has been a difficult time for Humble I.S.D., and our School Board is tested and experienced because of it. Now is not the time to change our course. That is why I am asking for your vote to re-elect me as Trustee.”

Dr. Bonnie Longninon, we also learned quite a bit more about her leadership roles (plural). She has been a college administrator at Lone Star College System for over 20 years, joined the Office of External Affairs as associate vice-chancellor for institutional and resource development in April 2003. Longnion is active statewide and in her community as an advocate for education. Longnion joined the Humble ISD School Board in 1988, where she has served as president, vice-president, and secretary. She has served on the Texas Association of School Boards and the Gulf Coast Association of School Boards. Bonnie says;

“I have had the honor and privilege to serve on the Humble ISD school board for 20 ½ years. I have served on numerous committees over the years, and I have served in the role of each office position as least twice. In addition to my service on the Humble ISD board, I additionally served on the Gulf Coast Association of School Boards. I served as the president of the Texas Association of School Boards in 2003-04 serving over 1,030 school districts. I am current president of the Houston YWCA. I am a current member of the American Business Women’s Association. I am past president of FamilyTime and the past president of the Northeast Chapter of the American Heart Association. I am a founding member and secretary of the Greater Houston P-16+ Council.”

Bonnie goes on to say;

“No. 1 issue: The number one issue facing Humble ISD is the crisis the district faces due to the current inequities in the state funding appropriations. There are some encouraging signs that the state legislators are going to address some of the problematic components of the methodology used to fund the state’s portion of school district. I have worked with other board members, community members, students and parents to tell the Humble ISD story. I know that many of the legislators see the inequities and they are doing their best to take responsible action for all school districts in the state. Adequate and equitable funding impacts our programs, salaries, technology and resources needed to provide an excellent learning environment for our students.”

Dan only spoke briefly, he has no challengers!

“I am running for another term to continue to work with our community, to educate our legislators about the inequity of the current funding system. We have dedicated a great deal of time and effort to educate everyone on the issues facing Humble ISD. As a result, we have made progress that we have not seen in years. Moving forward, I believe we need experienced board members to help lead us down the right path. I am committed to providing solutions to this growing problem, and know that in partnership with the community we can make a difference for our district.”

Very small turnout, as expected, not much controversy (unless you count the challenger’s mishaps, which Mr. Reed enlightened us in great detail.) So, it also looks like the voter turnout is expected to be very low. Mr. Johnson was not present at the second forum.

If you live in Kingwood and have cable television, The Lone Star College-Kingwood television channel 42 is currently showing both parts of the forum. For the viewing schedule, see http://kingwood.lonestar.edu/28698/. Look for Board Forum 1 and Board Forum 2 to see when the program is showing.

Both of these viewing options give you a chance to see and hear the five candidates for the three school board positions open for election this May 9. Even if you can’t watch all of the programs, please try to see some part of the presentation. Dr. Sconzo also has a brief, five-minute, presentation on school finance at the start of the first part.

Thank you for your interest in our school district and in becoming an informed voter. Please be aware that early voting began on April 27.

So, if you can…go vote!

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Humble ISD school board elections

Posted by Texas Education on March 19, 2009

School board elections will be coming up on us shortly, May 9th.  Last year I became involved in it more than I ever had before. We had quite a few vying for Jim Eggers position last year. This year will be totally different. We have 3 incumbents, Dan Huberty Position 1, Email Mr. Huberty’s profile, Keith Lapeze Position 2, Email Mr. Lapeze’s profile and Bonnie Longnion Position 3, Email Dr. Longnion’s profile.  Mr. Lapeze has a challenger, Aquarius Terry Johnson and Dr. Longnion is being challenged by Vernon Reed, 45, a business manager of a paralegal firm who previously ran in the 2008 special election for the vacant Position 5 seat, losing to Brent Engelage. At this time, I feel running against an incumbent would be an up hill battle. Unless the trustee is totally incompetent, and in this case I don’t feel that is true, it would be a huge waste of time, money and resources.

A candidate forum will be held Tuesday, March 31, at 7p.m. at the Administration Building, 20200 Eastway Village. It is being hosted by the Humble ISD Council of PTA’s and the Humble Association of Texas Professional Educators.

Questions you may want to ask school board candidates.

  1. In what areas are our schools doing well? Not doing so well? And what are your plans to improve those areas?
  2. What are the biggest challenges facing our schools and what are your plans to address them.?
  3. How will you ensure our students graduate with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed?
  4. How will you meet the needs or diverse students regardless of culture, language or abilities?
  5. What will you do to help keep children in school and engaged in the learning process?
  6. What are you doing to address the drop out issue in our district?
  7. How will you attract recruit and retain good teachers in the classrooms?
  8. How will you ensure that all children get a good start in school?
  9. How will you help children transition from elementary to middle school and then from middle school into high school and from high school into higher education or the workforce?
  10. What will you do to advocate and ensure support for public education in our community?
  11. What are you doing to address our fast growth district?

You can read more about the races here. Early voting begins April 27.

Dan Huberty

Dan Huberty

Keith Lapeze

Keith Lapeze

Dr. Bonnie Longnion

Dr. Bonnie Longnion

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Humble ISD Legislative Committee, March 9, 2009 Meeting Summary

Posted by Texas Education on March 12, 2009

Members of the Humble ISD Board of Trustees including Charles Cunningham, Dan Huberty, Dr. Bonnie Longnion, and Robert Scarfo, as well as Superintendent Guy Sconzo, shared their observations from the Legislative Reception in Austin to start the meeting. About 15 PTA members and three Quest students attended the reception. Representatives Senfronia Thompson and Joe Crabb, as well as aides from the offices of Sen. Dan Patrick, Sen. John Whitmire, Sen. Rodney Ellis and Rep. Debbie Riddle also attended.

Members of the Board and Guy noted that:

  • They were especially pleased that Rep. Joe Crabb attended.

  • The Texas Senate appears to understand and strongly support the need for additional funding and more equalized funding. House members’ efforts are not as cohesive.

  • Two bills – which are mirror images of each other – appear to be the ones we need to hang our hat on at this time. They are SB 982 (written by Sen. Van de Putte) and HB 1555 (written by Rep. Diane Patrick). There are no reliable simulations on how the money would flow at this time.

  • The last day to file bills is Friday, March 13th.

  • It appears that about $4.0 billion in new money will flow into the education system. $6.0 billion is needed to begin to make us whole. The $4.0 billion is a bridge until the funding system can be overhauled.
    • The good news is that legislators understand that there are huge disparities in WADA (it varies from around $3,000 to $12,000). This should be more equalized.
    • There will always be some weighting due to variations in property wealth in districts, but the disparity is way too large in the current funding system. Legislators understand the need to keep more equitable funding between school districts.
    • No more target revenue. This is a good thing.
    • No school districts will lose money in SB 982 and HB 1555. Those who have had high funding levels would get smaller increases than districts that have been short changed. That is, some will not gain ground as quickly as others because they have been funded at higher levels in recent years.

  • A possible special session is already under discussion. This is due in part to the Federal stimulus package. All that it encompasses – and the strings attached – are still being studied. Communication from Washington has been slow. Once there is more clarity and transparency from the Feds, then the information must be assimilated by those who must administrate it. Bottom Line: It will take time and unless it is done quickly, we may not know in July what our financial picture is going to be when school starts in August. Legislators know – as do we – that we can’t get school finance done right with the stimulus package on the table with more questions than answers at this point.

  • The governor has backed off the 65% rule (for instruction) largely thanks to Rep. Rob Eissler from the Woodlands who chairs the Public Education Committee in the House. This definition about what could be counted toward the 65% did not include some rather critical areas such as counselors, librarians and nurses, for example. These kinds of omissions were a sticking point to school districts.

Suggested next steps include:

  • Margaret Fraissinet will draft a Letter to the Editor for the local newspapers and for the Houston Chronicle and circulate a signature interest form for committee members who want to have their names included (At this writing, the letter is done and the signature interest process is underway. GO MARGARET!)

  • Hard copies of the Postcards will be available after Spring Break. Call 281-850-7693 if you need some.

Contact Legislators!

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Humble ISD District Legislative Committee

Posted by Texas Education on January 16, 2009

I attended last nights 2nd meeting of the Humble ISD District Legislative Committee. Of course, the purpose of this meeting is to bring awareness to the general public and the Texas Legislature, the concerns of the district (as well as all other districts in Texas) concerning funding (or lack thereof) for the school districts of Texas. Since my main purpose of blogging is educating those on Texas education, my reasons for working with such a group. Last nights attendance was not nearly a great as the first meeting, but I must say, for those in attendance, a great group of people determined to help our children get the education deserving of each and every child in the state of Texas, especially those in Humble.

Last night, the Board Legislative Committee Chair Charles Cunningham and board member Dan Huberty briefed the committee on legislative happenings since the first meeting of the District Legislative Committee.

Members met in combined sub-committees and generated the following action plans:

Targeted Message/Written Message

Margaret Fraissinet and sub-committee members reported:

  • The targeted message will be articulated around WADA (weighted daily average attendance) inequity.
  • Over the next week, he committee will develop a simple slogan and a summary of concerns regarding the broken state funding system.
  • The reality of no new revenue for local school district from any new local taxes due to new properties on the tax roll or higher appraised property values will be included.

The targeted message will define what the broken state funding system “means to me.”

Community Communications/Partnerships

Nancy Morrison and sub-committee members reported:

On a monthly basis,

  • The committee will take the targeted message and publish editorials in the newspapers.
  • Identify and compile a contact listing of community organizations for communication purposes.
  • Communicate and provide community organizations with draft communications and contact information that can be used for communicating to state elected officials.
  • Develop and establish a blog

Austin Visits

Allan Griffin and sub-committee members reported:

  • The committee will attempt to get high school(s) Government classes, Student Council representatives, etc. to organize a learning field trip to Austin during this legislative session. Before going to Austin, students will be informed about Education issues and problems facing the Legislature, especially targeting school finance.
  • Work with Karen Collier to prepare and share a talking points and information packet to be used when in Austin visiting with legislators and their education aides/chiefs of staff.
  • Identify “freshman” legislators and Education and Finance/Appropriations committee member legislators as key contacts for communications, in addition to our local state senators and representatives.

Upcoming events:

The North Houston Chambers of Commerce Day at the Capital
Tuesday, February 10th

The Humble Area Chamber of Commerce has reserved a small block of rooms for February 9th and those going up then will convene for dinner. On February 10th, there will be a luncheon for all with legislators at a cost of $37.50.

The State PTA Day at the Capital
Thursday, February 26th

There will be a rally on the south steps of the Capital at 11 am that morning and at approximately 1:30 pm, we will host a reception for our legislators and all from Humble ISD there.

Finally, please mark your calendar for our next District Legislative Committee meeting.

Thursday, February 12th 6:30 pm
Administration Building – Board Room

If you are interested in joining this group, you can contact; guy.sconzo@humble.k12.tx.us, or for updates here, or the school website.

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Car wash benefit for HHS – huge success!!!

Posted by Texas Education on September 7, 2008

On Saturday, September 6, the Atascocita Water Polo parents and players coordinated with all the Humble ISD Water Polo players and the Humble High School swim team students hosted a car wash at the Atascocita Tire & Auto to raise money for the Humble High School swim team. I consider this good stuff, as I like to call it in my classrooms.

My goal was for us was to make approximately $1,000, because I knew that in previous car washes we had brought in around $800. To our surprise, we are going to present to Rachel and her team a check for $1,200 at the board meeting on Tuesday night. This was not only a success monetarily, but we had parents from our water polo team as well as Humble’s swim team. We also had a tremendous amount of support from the students, as well. We even had a student from one of my classes at Kpark who helped out.

Some of the kids, I believe, had more soap on themselves than the cars. But, they did an awesome job, they worked hard, and a few got a little sun burnt.

I would like to thank Mr. Huberty for his support, and I told him he should have brought his motorcycle. We also saw Mr. Montemayor – who showed up before we were open for business. And Mr. Vernon Reed, our local education activist and community leader. I would also like to thank Mr. Zain Baquer – owner of Atascocita Tire & Automotive for allowing us to do this benefit, Neaobbes Country Crafts and Cafe for the cookies.

We hope to do this again in the future, and I hope to see as much, if not more support from the community.

With this benefit, I feel we are contributing to the schools, instead of asking for funding.

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