Revisions to board operating procedures and committee meetings were discussed again at Humble ISD’s recent school board meeting resulting in no official change, but the board did indicate an expectation to improve transparency through additional working sessions as needed.
The topic originally came up in August when trustee Robert Scarfo proposed changing the way committees are held by allowing the public to watch their meetings, suggesting that they become open committee meetings. The issue was placed on the October agenda for discussion. Trustee Keith Lapeze made a motion “to retain the current policies and operating procedures without changing the current committee structure.”
Scarfo said that his intent in bringing the issue to the board was to consider ways to enhance committees and not to overhaul the process. Scarfo said he wanted to consider “ways to add some transparency down the road and build toward doing those things.” Examples given were workshops for finance.
“Maybe there’s times when large projects can have a workshop,” Scarfo said. “Just putting out there that there wasn’t any malicious intent. Are there ways to add more transparency to the process? Some of it could be shared for the people to see [like] posting details about why the decision was made.”
Scarfo explained that the board is privy to reports and detailed information which help them make the decisions and influence the way they vote during open meetings. Although the school board members do not meet together outside of the public forum, they do get information that they have had time to consider.
“Maybe there’s a way to add more information along the way, add transparency to what we do and how we do it,” Scarfo said.
Lapeze responded that the board had previously “tried to figure out a way to change the way we run our committees” multiple times.
“It’s hard to do because we have laws in place that we have to follow regarding the meetings,” Lapeze said. However, “an occasional workshop makes sense,” Lapeze added. “I think that’s a good idea.”
Trustee Lori Twomey agreed that public working sessions for high-interest topics would be a good addition, stating that the idea would build confidence in stakeholders’ eyes to combat a perception that may be negative.
Trustee Martina Lemond Dixon requested clarification on the formality but agreed that “transparency is key.”
Dixon said, “We are as transparent as possible, but we can always do better.”
Board President Robert Sitton also agreed that working sessions would be a good addition when needed and verified that the current language in the policies and procedures allowed for a working session to be called upon by any of the board members when they deemed it necessary. After all members vocalized their thoughts, the board carried the motion to keep the existing policies and procedures for committee meetings structured as they were, but stated that working sessions would be called to inform the public of important projects and allow all the board members to see the progress of important projects. Those working sessions would be orchestrated with Humble ISD Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Fagen and her cabinet for participation and presence accommodations.
A presentation was made by PBK Architects on the final design documents for Kingwood High School and Kingwood Park High School gyms and CTE additions project. These projects are part of the improvements that were approved for Bond 2018 where “voters approved a $575 million bond referendum to build new schools, rebuild aging facilities, renovate and repair existing school facilities, and update technology and safety enhancements.” The gyms and CTE additions are currently in the process of receiving bids that will go before the board in November. Updated information about all projects associated with Bond 2018 can be found on the district website at humbleisd.net/bond2018 .
During the commendations and recognitions portion of the meeting, Executive Director of Construction Steven Hadley and other vital faculty and staff appeared in a video celebrating the changes in the district both past and present. The video can be seen on the Humble ISD website under inspiring moments at Newsroom /Inspiring Moments.
Dr. Robert Meaux spoke about the transition of the former Charles Bender High School band hall into the Humble Museum which is scheduled to have a grand opening in November. Humble High School is one of the campuses receiving a reboot and a sneak peak was shown to students. Humble High School Principal Terri Osborne said she is most excited about the students seeing the building in person with the updates. A webinar for Kingwood Middle School is scheduled for Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. for community members who would like to be informed on that project.