Humble ISD said farewell to a long-serving school board member and welcomed in the replacement at last Tuesday’s regular school board meeting. A letter of resignation was submitted March 27 by Angela Conrad due to moving into her “dream home.” Conrad has served on the Humble ISD School Board since first being elected in 2013.
Before accepting the resignation, her fellow board members offered a few heartfelt sentiments. Board President Nancy Morrison began the discussion portion by recalling some of Conrad’s achievements during her time on the school board. “In 2016,” Morrison said, “Angela earned the master trustee designation for her participation in the Leadership TASB program. She also represented Humble ISD on the board of directors for both the Gulf Coast Area Association of School Boards and the Lone Star Investment Pool. Ms. Conrad will continue serving on the judging panel for the H-E-B Excellence in Education awards program.
“In her most challenging year as board president, she led the district through the recovery after Hurricane Harvey, the aftermath of the Santa Fe High School shootings, the reappraisal of property tax values for 2017, a successful bond referendum and earning the Outstanding School Board of the Year at the 2018 H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards.”
According to Morrison, Conrad is most proud of “retiring a beloved superintendent of 15 years and hiring Dr. Fagen, a transformational leader who shares a compelling vision of how we can best prepare students for a very different world, and who gives teachers and leaders permission to innovate and trusts them to take small steps leading to big change.”
Morrison explained that the school board has a tradition of giving outgoing school board members a commemorative bowl, which Conrad received.
Trustee Lori Twomey said, “I’m going to greatly miss you and having you on the board. As the newest member, you did an excellent job of welcoming me and giving me advice. I found your insight to be very valuable.”
“When I was elected,” Trustee Martina Lemond Dixon said, “You were my board president and I truly appreciate your leadership. But even before that, you and I met at the polls and became fast friends and I will never forget that. I have enjoyed serving alongside you. I have learned a lot from you. I’m truly going to miss your humor.”
Trustee Robert Scarfo vocalized that saying goodbye to Conrad was tough. “I will surely miss [Conrad’s] input on this board.”
Keith Lapeze shared that Conrad has done great things on the school board but has also “done a lot of things behind the scenes for our district.”
Robert Sitton congratulated Conrad on the new home and followed by saying, “You’ve left this community better than you found it. You’ve left this board better than you found it, this is home, and this is the community that means so much to my family. But you have taught me how to be a board member.
“Your knowledge, the way you handle yourself, the way you handle this board and all around the state of Texas. You will be missed, but you won’t be forgotten. And the example that you have given us, hopefully, we can all continue that legacy,” he said.
Conrad also had a few words. “I think they say who you are is how you lead, and I would like to say ‘thank you’ to each of you for letting me be me and lead the way I need to. I appreciate that.
“We’ve had conflict. We’ve had tough conversations. We’ve had emotional discussions. I think we’re all better for it. So much has changed since I got on the board, the fact that I’m not the only woman, for one, is fantastic. We all have that shared purpose and we know that it’s not about status or titles but recognizing potential in people and ideas. I have every confidence that you will continue that. I just ask that you choose courage over comfort as you continue to serve the community. Thank you for allowing me to serve,” she said.
The board then moved to fill her vacancy through an appointment rather than by election. Reasons given for choosing to fill the vacancy by appointment instead of election were precedent, financial responsibility and timing.
Sitton said, “I would agree with this decision to go by appointment. If you look back over history, the vast majority of resignations in the past have been filled by the appointment process. If you look at the timing and the cost to the district, the last numbers that we saw it was $200,000 to hold a special election. I don’t think in the current economic environment it would be in the district’s best interest and we are one year away from a true election.”
Scarfo amended the motion to fill the vacancy with the appointment of Brent Engelage, a former board member.
Twomey agreed that appointment would be the best move to make with the current situation and supported the appointment of Engelage due to “his past experience.” Twomey explained that Engelage “was a member of the board when Dr. Fagen was hired into the district.” Engelage was unanimously approved to be appointed to fill the vacancy.
The board recognized the district’s Top 10 finalists for the Teacher of the Year through surprise drive-up celebrations that had been conducted before the meeting.
Fagen addressed rumors of school cancellations and ideas for graduating students.
“This is a rapidly developing situation and I’m on calls almost every day getting new information,” she said. “As soon as we have enough information to make an additional recommendation, we will do that.
“We would love to provide something for our fifth graders, our eighth graders, our seniors that allows them to close the year in a campus that they may not return to. We remain hopeful that there is a possibility for some sort of creative approach to closure for students.”
Fagen said an outdoor graduation may be the result in efforts to comply with social distancing, but that nothing is set in stone yet.
“Our goal is that every single Humble ISD senior will have their name called, an opportunity to at least pick up a diploma cover and have their picture taken. These are the conversations we’re having. We want to give families an opportunity to plan.”
Video of the meeting can be found by going to the Humble ISD website.