By Betsy Dolan
Concerned that the Fort Bend ISD Board of Trustees is not as diverse as it should be, State Representative Ron Reynolds (District 27) has filed a bill to change the way the district’s school board elections are held.
Reynolds’ bill, HB 527, would create single-member districts in which candidates would only need to compete for votes in their specific district. Currently, Fort Bend ISD elections are at-large– meaning that candidates compete for votes throughout the entire city.
In a news release, Reynolds stated that he wants the school board’s make-up to reflect the district’s ethnic breakdown. According to 2011 figures compiled by the Texas Education Agency, Fort Bend ISD’s student population is 31% African-American; 24% Hispanic; 23% Asian and 23% White.
Dr. Patsy Taylor is currently the only minority on Fort Bend ISD’s seven member board.
“One of the main reasons that I decided to file this bill was because of numerous complaints from constituents and community stakeholders from the east side of my district that they weren’t getting adequate representation for east Fort Bend schools”, stated Reynolds.
Reynolds’ also noted that Houston ISD and Lamar Consolidated ISD use single-member districts.
Fort Bend ISD spokesperson, Nancy Porter said the current method of electing Board Trustees has served the district well since its inception in 1959 when Missouri City Independent School District and Sugar Land Independent School District combined to form Fort Bend ISD.
“The District’s method of electing Trustees provides equal representation with three trustee positions elected from residents living in the West Division, three positions from residents living in the East Division and one at-large position,” Porter said. “All residents in Fort Bend ISD can vote for all seven Trustee positions and are not limited to voting for a candidate in a single member district.”
In addition, Porter stated that the district is watching HB 527 and other education related bills carefully but is hoping the state legislature focuses on the six legislative priorities outlined by Fort Bend ISD, Stafford MSD, and Lamar Consolidated ISD late last year.
Those priorities range from opposing school vouchers, simplifying the school finance and school accountability systems and putting additional resources toward career and technical education.