3 things to look out for at HISD's school board meeting

By Leigh Frillici - Reporter, Jake Reiner - Reporter

HOUSTON - Thursday is a busy day for the Houston Interdependent School District. KPRC learned that the Texas Education Agency is meeting with district officials.  

The board will met behind closed doors at 2 p.m. to discuss not only discuss superintendent Richard Carranza's exit but his replacement as well. Then, an open session begins at 5 p.m.

Things to look for at the meeting include:

1. TEA meeting is behind closed doors 

While we don’t know exactly what will be discussed in this portion of the meeting, we do know the issues at hand.

HISD has 15 low-performing schools, 10 of which have received improvement required ratings for the four consecutive years. If any of those schools receive the same rating this year, TEA could possibly take over the district’s school board.

The district has also proposed allowing other organizations to take over the underperforming schools to improve them.

“Whatever we do or don’t do for magnet schools is not what TEA is going to shut us down for,” said Zeph Capo, the Houston Federation of Teachers President. “They're going to shut us down if we don't do what we need to do for the improvement required schools.”

Mayor Turner also met with the Texas Education Commissioner today at city hall. The mayor saying on Wednesday that he was going to ask the Commissioner to give underperforming schools extra time to bring up their ratings due to Hurricane Harvey.

The Mayor’s press office told KPRC today that there was no resolution on that issue.

2. Superintendent Richard Carranza’s departure

Trustees will review the following options for finding his replacement: appoint a short-term interim and do an immediate search for a permanent replacement, appoint a long-term interim and postpone the search for a permanent replacement, or post the position and hire immediately. 

While Carranza was applauded for things like the way he led the 284 schools in the district back to class after Hurricane Harvey, HISD has many more obstacles to face.

For example: The $15 million deficit and millions of tax money owed back to the state through recapture. Not to mention, the magnet program, which Carranza said would be transformed to improve access and quality of the programs for students district-wide.

Thursday morning Channel 2 spoke with a couple of HISD parents and asked them what they look for in a superintendent.

"(Carranza's) not staying but I wish he would stay. I think they need somebody that engages the community the way he did but also can work well with the board and with these dang money problems the district has," said parent Ron Sledge. 

"We need someone who is going to be here for the long term," said parent Ginny McDavid. "So I'm not sure who bought out his contract, maybe New York did, he had a three-year contract, but I want to see a 5-year contract in the next superintendent."

“It felt like he came in at the 11th hour and created a lot of chaos and confusion and now is backing out,” said Heather Golden, a Frank Black Middle School Parent.

3. Reduction in workforce

Due to budget cuts, HISD officials will be talking about reducing teachers and other campus-based employees, as well as central office employees. This topic was supposed to be discussed at the last meeting, but was tabled for this one. 

“Knowing this RIF decision could will impact the lives of our employees and students, we wanted to be responsible and to make sure we were minimizing the impact to classrooms,” HISD Board of Education President Rhonda Skillern-Jones said. “We reviewed the RIF proposal and came back with something trustees could live with: Employees currently in critical shortage areas will not be subject to a RIF. That includes, but is not limited to, secondary math, science and English, bilingual education and some special education critical shortage areas.” 

Another subject of discussion is the results of review of the HISD’s Special Education Program. American Institutes for Research, or AIR conducted a 10-month review of the program and assessed HISD’s strengths and weaknesses, then provided recommendations to improve student services.

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