By STEFAN MODRICH
Come May 1, a new member will have been elected to serve on Fort Bend ISD’s Board of Trustees in Position 2.
Grayle James, a Sugar Land resident who has served for nine years on the board, announced in a news release Monday that she would not pursue a fourth term.
“As I reflect on my service to Fort Bend ISD, I am humbled by your support and belief in me over these past nine years,” James said in a news release. “The journey has been very rewarding through my experiences and the new friends I have made along the way. It has been an honor and privilege to serve this amazing district.”
During her board tenure, James played key leadership roles, serving two years as president. For three years, she chaired the Vision and Planning Committee, and spent five years as the chair of the Policy Committee. She also received the designation of Master Trustee by the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB).
In a phone interview Monday, James said she had spent considerable time planning to retire from the board, adding she began to formulate her decision in talks with her family even before the COVID-19 pandemic began in the U.S. in March.
“In a sense, it was not that difficult of a decision, but yet I’ve loved serving on the school board and I will miss it,” James said. “But it’s time to move on and do some new things.”
She was also involved in the hiring of Charles Dupre as superintendent in 2013. James said she does not expect Dupre’s replacement will be hired before her term expires in May, but that she would be involved in the search for Dupre’s successor, including hiring a search firm and reaching out to community members for feedback. Dupre’s Nov. 16 announcement in which he said he planned to retire at the end of 2021, James said, “reinforces” her decision to retire.
“I thought, ‘I don’t want to be in the place of when the new superintendent comes in at the very beginning to be there to hold that person accountable over a period of time for what their vision is for the district and what they say they’re going to do,’’ James said. “The person who takes my seat hopefully will be able to serve for a period of time similar to mine and be able to work with that new superintendent and hold him or her accountable for what they say they’re going to do and help Fort Bend ISD get to the next level.”
James said she was proud of the awards and accolades the district has received during her nine years of service, including the H-E-B Excellence in Education – School Board of the Year Award FBISD earned in 2017, and an academic program management audit conducted in 2019 by Gibson Consulting that garnered the district 17 commendations.
Additionally, James oversaw the rezoning of the entire district in 2015, in the process aligning the feeder school patterns, considering the social and emotional impact of streamlining the pipelines from elementary schools to middle schools and middle schools to high schools.
“If you were to look at a map of the district at that time, there was a lot of fragmentation,” James said. “So an elementary school, all of the kids in fifth grade, they would split up some of them to five different middle schools, based on the zoning. So they would transition to that new school, but not be with their cohort from their grade that they had come to know. And it was very disruptive to them, because it required all new friendships, and it was disruptive to their learning because not everyone had the same elementary experience, there was a variety of elementary school experiences.”
She also said the measures she and her colleagues adopted demonstrated FBISD’s growth and progress over a span of several years.
“FBISD has grown from a district of silos and secrets to one that strives for transparency to the staff and community in everything we do,” James said. “We have gone from a district that often ignored achievement gaps and disparity, to one that seeks equity, offers all courses at all schools, and values diversity and inclusion. Our district is a place where students can find and pursue their chosen path; where all students can reach their full potential.”