The nation's seventh largest school district is in turmoil. Due to a handful of chronically failing campuses, Houston ISD is struggling to fend off a state take-over, while simultaneously wrestling with a deficit in the neighborhood of $20 million. Add the departure of the district's highly touted superintendent, Richard Carranza who is bailing out after just 18 months and headed to New York City.
Houston ISD Trustee Sue Deigaard and well known advocate Dr. Bob Sanborn, leader of Children at Risk join host Greg Groogan to talk about what lies ahead for the school district and Houston's students.
The HISD school board voted Thursday night on a measure that will allow them to cut jobs from the district, called a “reduction in force”.
Which positions will be cut will be determined by a budget workshop on March 22. The measure just allows the board to cut positions as needed in the future.
A board member tells FOX 26 they're trying not to cut positions that interact with students, like teachers, but may have to depending on what they learn in the budget workshop. As of right now, no HISD cops, janitors, or bus drivers are on that list.
The district is currently facing a $115 million budget shortfall, down from a $208 million deficit.
The board room was packed Thursday night as parents and teachers met to hear what was going to happen with HISD’s upcoming budget, with Superintendent Richard Carranza‘s departure to New York after 18 months in position, and the future of the district's teachers. Community members also voiced their concerns and questions about the district having to find a new leader.
“The way this district is run Fred Flintstone could do a great job right now. So all we really want right now is somebody that really has a passion for children,” says executive director of the United Urban Alumni Association Gerry Monroe.
Trustee Sue Deigaard made sure to comment she was not for reducing the amount of teachers and staff to help met budget needs.
“I can’t support a reduction of forces when principles have no way of understanding how they are going to staff these schools because they don’t know what programs are going to look like, they don’t know what the budgets are going to look like, they have an idea but it’s not finalized and I can’t support losing great teachers and great staff,” says Deigaard.
A group of parents outraged outside wanting the district to be audited.
“I don’t see how you can make any big decisions without opening your books and truly looking at what’s happening," parent Heather Golden says. "Are these programs that they pay for effective? Do they work or would smaller class sizes be more effective? What is truly the best way to run a school?”
The next HISD board meeting will be April 12.