Election 2015

Incumbents Face Challengers in Run-Off Races for Houston School Board

Whoever is elected to the HISD board will help hire the next superintendent.

Two incumbents on the Houston school board are trying to fend off challengers, after struggling to keep their seats outright in the November elections.

The first match-up is in District II, which covers Kashmere and North Forest high schools.

There HISD Board President Rhonda Skillern-Jones is facing her first contested election.

At an earlier forum, she said that she gave up a career to improve children’s education.

“And that means all graduates, to ensure that we do not continue to have the (school to) prison pipeline for black and brown children, and to ensure that we don’t have a dropout issue,” she added.

Skillern-Jones said that the two biggest issues facing Houston schools are distributing resources fairly and closing the achievement gap.

“And I believe that if we solve the first problem, then we will start to make big headway on the second one,” Skillern-Jones added.

She’s facing challenger Larry Williams who’s campaigned for the seat before.

“The first two times were dress rehearsals. This is the real deal. This is my third time running,” said Williams, who is a pastor and community activist.

He criticized Skillern-Jones for filing late in the previous election in 2011.

“There’s just a whole lot of problems within the district and I want to bring a common-sense approach to the Houston Independent School District,” Williams said, pointing to schools struggling to meet state standards.

The second run-off race is in District III, which includes Chavez and Milby high schools, where Trustee Manuel Rodriguez, Jr. is seeking his fourth term.

“I believe I’ve represented District III very well. It’s been an honor to serve the district and it would be an honor to continue serving the district,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez pointed to his record, saying he’s pushed for building upgrades and laptops for students. If reelected, he said he wants to expand vocational training.

“So that kids can become acquainted with the skills of electricians, of plumbers, of construction work, heavy equipment operators,” Rodriguez said.

His opponent Jose Leal pledged to bring change to District III, starting with a local office, so that residents don’t have to drive across town to the headquarters for the Houston Independent School District.

“My change that I’m talking about is that we’re going to be taken seriously; we’re not going to be just laying back and take it,” Leal said.

Leal added that he’ll bring a different kind of experience to the HISD board of trustees. He worked for decades in HISD, starting as a custodian and working his way up to administrator. Now he works at a charter school.

“So, every step of the way, it’s training for me to see how whole school and the whole district operates,” Leal said.

Whoever is elected to the HISD board will help hire the next superintendent.

Share

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

More Information