AP NEWS

Four candidates seeking Humble ISD board position 2Sub: Lapeze is not seeking re-election after more than a decade on the board

February 28, 2019

There will be a new face on the Humble ISD board of trustees.

After 12 years of serving on the school board, position 2 member Keith Lapeze has decided not to seek re-election for the upcoming election on May 4.

Four candidates have set their eyes on becoming a new trustee on the Humble ISD school board.

The candidates, who are listed below, each participated in a Q&A with the Observer. The candidate’s responses have been listed in alphabetical order.

Janie Branham, a former Houston ISD teacher and principal

Ryan Engolio, an engineering supervisor at Superior Energy Services

Nikki Roux, vice president and chief nursing officer at Memorial Hermann Northeast

Robert Scarfo, director of credit services at Insperity

Why did you decide to run for position 2?

Branham: I am a former teacher and principal with 14 year-old twins in Humble ISD middle school. I have always been dedicated to education. I am a full time mom and have the time to serve on the school board. I can devote my time and expertise to Humble ISD without conflict. I am not doing this to benefit anyone but the children in the district. My only priority is the children in the schools and preparing them to be successful in their future.

Engolio: As a parent with children currently enrolled in the district, I want to get more involved in their education, the processes that guide their education and the opportunities that are available for all of the children in the district.

Roux: The reason I am motivated to run for Position 2 on the Humble ISD school board is related to a desire to serve at a greater level in the community in which I live. I have contemplated running for a position over the last few years when there have been open positions. And now seems to be a great time to do so.

Scarfo: There are several reasons why I have chosen to run for the Humble ISD School Board. Chief among them — our three grandsons, Jake, Beckham and Bruce. Two are attending school in the district, with the third soon to follow. We are losing the services of a very experienced and very competent board member. My financial skills and overall business acumen will again benefit the district as we continue to face a growing and diverse student population, limited state funding, and the need to add new campuses and rebuild others over the next few years.

What kind of experience would you bring that could benefit Humble ISD?

Branham: I am a former teacher, principal, television talk show host, and business manager in the Houston Independent School District. While I was principal of Crespo Elementary the teachers and students attained an exemplary rating from the Texas Education Agency. As a TV talk show host, I was able to raise millions of dollars for underprivileged students and created over 100 business-school partnerships. I retired as an educator to set aside more time on raising my twins.

Engolio: My professional career has afforded me opportunities to develop skills that include contract review and negotiations, production scheduling, project management and research and development skill sets as well teaching these skills to others. I believe these skills would be an asset to the district.

Roux: My past experiences align with the goals of the school district. I have worked in healthcare for 25 years with the last 14 years dedicated to hospital administration. Caring for a vulnerable population by creating patient and family centered experiences while ensuring that we are delivering high quality, cost effective care has been a focus in my everyday role for many years. I was blessed to be able to participate in the “Principal for a Day” program with an Humble ISD Middle School Principle a few years back, and it helped me to realize that my role as a healthcare leader wasn’t that different than an education leader. Education leaders care for a vulnerable population that needs to have student/family centric attention while maintaining high quality and good financial stewardship.

Scarfo: My proven track record during my prior school board service makes me uniquely qualified to fill this void. I will not be faced with the typical learning curve.

Are there any issues within the school board you feel should be addressed?

Branham: As a Hispanic that is fluent in Spanish and other languages and a person who is experienced in educating minority children, I can be an effective arbitrator for many parents who have concerns about their children. Parents cannot feel disconnected in a successful school district. Often, when concerns arise the only issue that needs to be resolved is effective communication. I can help parents, teachers and other board members by providing this vital need.

Engolio: Communication is an issue that I would like to be actively involved with in the ISD. From my own experiences, I feel the communication abilities of the ISD with parents could be improved.

Roux: There are several schools within Humble ISD that are currently recognized with the US News and World Reports as some of the best schools in the state. That speaks volumes to the work that the Humble ISD leaders and school board have done in prioritizing outcomes for our students. My goal would be to continue to contribute to and build upon these successes.

Scarfo: No, I believe the current board operates effectively and efficiently.

What are your top priorities for Humble ISD?

Branham: Our biggest issue is providing first class schools in a district that is experiencing tremendous growth. Research shows that large overcrowded schools have much higher drop out and absence rates. Unsuccessful schools are not only bad for children, they are bad for property values, and they are bad for area crime rates. That means that new schools are very important, and hiring great teachers to teach in them is very important. We have to respond to what will happen in the coming years, not just react to our current situation.

Engolio: Communication, accessibility, student safety and college readiness.

Roux: Top priorities for Humble ISD from my perspective include planning for safety in our schools as well as planning for and embracing an ever growing population in the existing and newly established areas of the Lake Houston area.

Scarfo: In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing the district will continue to be a growing and diverse student population and adequate state funding for operations and facilities. These challenges primarily drive all others: Attracting and retaining the best personnel in all areas of the organization. Providing quality professional development. This must continue to be of the “game-changer” caliber it has become, which in turn drives impactful curriculum and ultimately student learning. Continuing to be proactive in our approach to campus safety. Providing a safe and secure learning environment is and will continue to be of utmost importance. The district has made great strides by employing physical protections, staff/student training, and coordination with law enforcement at all levels. Best practices will continually be reviewed against current policy. Continuing to promote a clear “after high school” career path, partnering with our business community and higher education institutions to assist students in identifying career opportunities. Advocating for our SPED students, ensuring adequate resources for one of our most vulnerable student populations. Planning for additions, expansions and refurbishments/replacements of physical plant. Staying ahead of the building curve, managing it with great precision due to limited capital and operating funds. Ensuring the best of class technology infrastructure, not just for the sake of technology but choosing proven platforms for both infrastructure backbones and classroom utilization. Sustaining sound fiscal management will always be a great challenge due to the District’s heavily weighted residential property tax component. Must strive for the biggest “bang for the buck”. The District should never continue a program that doesn’t drive the desired return on investment, be it a qualitative or quantitative return.

kaila.contreras@chron.com