A group that will help lead the way to meet the needs of Houston school children has formed and is sharing its mission with local organizations.

Representatives of Bright Futures Houston made a brief presentation to the Houston school board at last Tuesday’s monthly meeting. The group is a partnership with the district under the umbrella of the national non-profit organization Bright Futures USA.

Houston Herald editor Jeff McNiell and elementary teacher Terisa Ward, both members of the local leadership team, shared the mission of Bright Futures and its progress the past several weeks. Members participated in a day of training and have scheduled meetings to share about the organization with local groups.

Bright Futures uses a framework to bring together businesses, human services agencies, faith-based organizations, parent groups and individuals to help kids succeed. The goal is to identify and meet any child’s basic needs –– from a pair of shoes and clothing to school supplies, food and any other need –– within 24 hours. Mentorship programs will also be established.

“There are many groups and individuals doing many great things in our community,” McNiell said. “Bright Futures isn’t just another group. Our mission is to pool together all the people and resources already in place so that we have a unified effort in identifying and assisting our children.”

McNiell shared with school board members a story he was told from former elementary principal Amy Dill about young children digging for food from a dumpster. He said that story opened his eyes to the needs in Houston.

Ward said she and her colleagues daily identify needs of students in the district. She shared a story of a student she encountered that week who had shoes with holes in them.

“It’s unacceptable for any of us to hear stories like these and not be moved into action,” McNiell said.

McNiell told the school board that Bright Futures Houston was planning a kickoff event in January. He said an email list and Facebook page were being established to communicate students’ needs to the community as they were identified.

Also at the meeting, school board members:

•Hired Dorothy Reber in food service/cafeteria for the current school year as well as Elizabeth Overy and Bonnie Bleckler as substitute cooks and Roy George as a substitute bus driver pending background check and correct licensure.

•Accepted a resignation from Russell Kane as bus driver. His last day is Oct. 17.

•Approved beginning a winter guard program for the band this year. Crystal Sutphin will receive an $800 stipend to lead the program.

•Received an update on upcoming PTO activities from member Rachel Kelly.

•Heard from T.J. Hinkle that construction of the building trades house is on schedule.

•Approved bus routes for the current school year.

•Accepted an evaluation from Jeremy Smith, director of the Exceptional Child Cooperative.

•Were led in the Pledge of Allegiance by Houston Middle School student of the month nominees Lexi King, Ashlynn Burns and Caleb Tallman.

•Set a work session and opening meeting for 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 9.

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