Robert Sitton, a financial adviser, a lifelong resident of Humble ISD, part of three generations of Humble graduates, an eight-year teacher/coach in Aldine ISD, and a member of the Humble ISD school board since 2011, sat down with The Tribune to raise unanswered questions regarding, “The View.”
“In November 2021, I attended a meeting that discussed usage of the 90-acre tract of land available for sale for the past 10 years without bids or actions on West Lake Houston Parkway. As the last speaker of the night and representative for the school board, I expressed [with permission] the intent of Humble ISD to purchase this property. It is the last remaining property of its size in the district,” stated Sitton.
In the weeks following that meeting, several members of the Harris County Housing Authority sat down with Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Fagen and members of her team to solicit and discuss a probable offer and property details.
In early 2022, on Jan. 6, a formal letter of intent was issued by Humble ISD to the housing authority in the form of a package that included a feasibility study and samples to be able to purchase the property in question upon offer acceptance. The next month, on Feb. 3, a denial of offer response was received by the school board without a counteroffer.
Since this time frame, Humble ISD has given a second offer with a 10% increase. The total amount cannot be disclosed at this time since the deal is still in negotiations as their offer has not received a response to date.
“The main question we all have is why the authority aggressively sought an offer after meeting regarding the parameters only to deny the offer without clearly-defined answers on behalf of the authority board since the wording of the denial response seemed very “I” [singular] focused and signed only by CEO, Horace Allison. How would Humble ISD administrators know what to offer as a bonified, prudent amount if discussions had not taken place ahead of time? Why the seeming change of heart and timing?” Sitton questioned.
Recently, the housing authority partnered with Harris County and has stated as such that they cannot make important decisions without their approval — specifically with regard to the second offer.
Currently, Humble ISD owns 150 acres adjacent to the 90 acres in question. These tracts of land are the last remaining tracts that could be built on to handle the magnitude and growth of the district. Humble ISD seeks to build Middle School No. 11 and other educational facilities on the 90 acres and potentially an elementary and high school on the existing 150-acre tract purchased in 2015.
“If Humble ISD is allowed to purchase the land from the authority, it would be a ‘win-win’ situation. That is, the authority would get much of the money back they invested and Humble ISD would be able to better solve issues of traffic, security and overcrowding,” Sitton said.
Some of the additional unanswered questions from the district and community members to the authority center around the makeup of the already-planned inhabitants, stating out loud how traffic would be handled, addressing how the area wildlife would be saved/rescued/moved, and communicating how a community of the proposed type would benefit, educate and fund the already overcrowded campuses, added Sitton.
“It is not in the greater community’s interest to load up that area with more homes, more traffic and more students. A government infrastructure should not knowingly bring the community infrastructure — the road systems, the school systems — to a breaking point,” Sitton said.
“This area is already congested. Why are they so determined to not work together with us? Somebody stands to gain something because this approach is illogical. It is the reasonable expectation of all taxpayers that government entities work together in the best interest of the community.”
Sitton concluded, “Humble ISD has followed through and even gone above and beyond past bond initiatives. The board built a new North Belt Elementary using Bond 2018 savings. The board built Guy M. Sconzo Early College High School from district savings. Foster Elementary School and Sterling Middle School replacement campuses are planned using Bond 2022 dollars if passed by voters. I want to personally thank J.K. Washington and Michelle Pouncy for their diligence and efforts in furthering the mission of Humble ISD — which includes partnering with families and the community to develop each child into a lifelong learner and responsible global citizen. This mission transcends all income levels, races and points of view.”