The newly-elected Highland Park ISD board of trustees took the oath of office Tuesday with one notable exception – the winner of the place 4 seat held by incumbent Jae Ellis after challenger Tyler Beeson requested a recount.
In unofficial results, Ellis, who was first elected to the board in 2019, led Beeson, who works in wealth management, with 51% of the vote (4,184 votes) to Beeson’s 49% (4,041 votes). The place 4 trustee will be sworn in at a later date after the conclusion of the recount process.
Ellen Lee, who led insurance executive Spencer Siino in the place 5 seat on the Highland Park ISD board of trustees (held by former trustee Edward Herring, who was first elected to the board in 2016) with 59% of the vote (4,837 votes) in unofficial results to Siino’s 41% (3,384 votes).
Place 3 trustee Bryce Benson ran unopposed.
Following the administration of the oath of office, the board voted to keep president Tom Sharpe in his role, place 2 trustee Maryjane Bonfield as vice president, Benson as secretary, and place 1 trustee Doug Woodward as finance chair.
“You’ve served faithfully, intelligently, thoughtfully, and passionately,” Sharpe said of Herring before recognizing him with an award after welcoming the new trustees.
In other news:
- The Highland Park ISD board of trustees approved a minimum 5% pay raise for staff for the 2022-2023 school year. District staff received a 3% pay increase for 2021-2022, bringing the total increase to 8% over a two-year period. The increase comes as a result of the voter approval tax rate election passed in November, additional revenue from increased taxable appraised values, other revenue sources and cost-saving measures, as well as the Highland Park Education Foundation (HPEF), which has committed to raise $1.7 million, up from $1.2 million, during next year’s annual Mad for Plaid campaign along with funds from HPEF’s Tartan Endowment. The increase brings starting pay for HPISD teachers from $52,500 to $56,000.
- A subcommittee of the district’s board of trustees decided to hire Robyn Hartzell, a former teacher who also has experience as an instructional coach, interventionist, trainer, consultant, and program coordinator at the campus and regional levels, and Thea Woodruff, a lecturer at the College of Education at the University of Texas, whose focus includes research-based literacy practices in PK-12 settings, student motivation and identity, and effective instructional coaching practices, to serve as consultants to guide the district through the process of phasing out the Heinemann Units of Study materials for teaching reading and writing in kindergarten-eighth grade.