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Rev. Josef Klam

In June, Spring Branch ISD trustee Wayne Schaper, Sr. stepped down after 14 years on the board and 55 years of service to the school district. To fill Schaper’s seat until the next election, the board considered dozens of replacements. They ultimately unanimously selected Reverend Joseph Klam, the directing pastor for adult discipleship at Chapelwood United Methodist Church. Klam, a third-generation resident of Spring Branch, attended Valley Oaks Elementary, Spring Branch Middle School, and Memorial High School, where his freshman year coincided with Schaper’s final year as principal. Schaper had previously coached Klam’s father at Landrum Middle School.

“He’s an incredible man, an incredible person of faith and integrity,” Klam said about Schaffer. “I’ve always looked up to him as a leader, and just have the utmost respect for him. To follow in his footsteps is an incredible honor.”

Klam, whose own children attend SBISD schools, has been volunteering for the district for almost two decades, chairing fundraisers, chaperoning parties, and “going on just about every elementary school field trip possible,” he recalled, laughing. In the 2013-14 school year he joined the district’s finance subcommittee, where he got a firsthand look at the district’s budgetary process. “I started to learn more about how we fund education in the state of Texas, and what the current formula and model means for Spring Branch,” Klam said, noting that the district isn’t as wealthy as it might appear.

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The Rev. Josef Klam is sworn in on July 11 by executive assistant Cheryl Jeffers.

“You look around the neighborhoods here and see that we are a property-wealthy district, and the assumption is that the schools must be really well-equipped. But when you start learning about recapture [the state’s “Robin Hood” funding model, which diverts resources from property-rich districts to property-poor districts], you realize that Spring Branch is actually at a disadvantage.”

As a trustee, Klam will be responsible for overseeing the implementation of Spring Branch’s ambitious new strategic plan, which includes the district’s recent designation as a “district of innovation.” “I believe our school district should be leading the state in determining how you do public education in the future,” Klam said. “Part of that is because of the incredible resources we have—not in terms of money, but in terms of determined, gifted, creative community members. We have really, really smart folks who are committed to excellence. That’s parents as well as staff.”

Klam decided to put his name forward for consideration to join the board of trustees after meeting with Superintendent Scott Muri, who took office last year and has spearheaded the creation of the new strategic plan. “When I finally got to meet and talk with Dr. Muri, I was like: this is exactly who I hoped the district would find. Because he is a creative and innovative leader,” said Klam. “So when the opportunity to put my name in the hat for school board came up, I gave it a go. This is an exciting time in the district, and if my gifts and my strengths could be useful, then I definitely want to make them available.”