HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Carranza stepped up as superintendent at HISD since August 2016. Before coming to Houston, Carranza served as superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District for four years.
Carranza is leaving the largest school district in Texas to run the largest in the country.
"No greater opportunity than the largest school system in America, in the greatest city in America, the most diverse city in America, New York City," Carranza said.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio made the announcement Monday afternoon, that he had appointed Carranza as NYC's next School Chancellor.
“Richard Carranza understands the power of public education to change lives, and he has a proven record of strengthening public schools and lifting up students and families,” said Mayor de Blasio. “He understands the tremendous work New York City educators do every day to put our children on the path to success. Richard is the right person to lead our school system forward as we build on the progress we’ve made over the past four years and make our vision of equity and excellence for every child a reality."
Mayor de Blasio praised Carranza's leadership in Houston, including Carranza's efforts to get Houston back open two weeks after Hurricane Harvey.
"He is one of the people who helped get Houston back on its feet," Mayor de Blasio said. "And he determined very early on that the school district had to lead the way."
During his remarks, Carranza thanked Houston and Mayor Sylvester Turner for the opportunity to serve.
And as he says he did in Houston, Carranza promised to be champion for all schools in New York.
"If you are a student who does not yet speak English, we hear you. If you are a dreamer, we hear you," Carranza said.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner released this statement:
I received phone calls today from Richard Carranza and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. I wished the superintendent well, and I told Mayor de Blasio that I believe he is getting a very capable superintendent. Now, we must focus on HISD’s situation.
HISD is our largest school district not only in the city but also in the state, and it’s important for its trustees to put in place a very capable interim leader as we navigate through the challenges the district is facing. It’s clear the city cannot move forward unless our school districts are moving forward and providing a quality education to all our children. I will be glad to work closely with the interim superintendent as well as the board to make sure we are doing the very best for our schools, our children and the people in the city of Houston.
It isn’t the best time for the Houston Independent School District Superintendent Richard Carranza to leave the district. So why did he accept a new job in New York? Reporter Damali Keith sat down to talk with Carranza about his time in Houston and the new journey he’s about to embark upon.
“It’s a new adventure. My wife and I always say as long as we’re together it doesn’t matter where we are. It’s going to be an adventure,” smiles Carranza.
He's headed to New York to lead a school district of more than one million students, compared to Houston's 214,000 kids.
“It’s bitter sweet because I loved my time here in Houston. But as a superintendent, New York City is the pinnacle of your career. It’s the largest school district in America,” Carranza explains.
The superintendent is leaving HISD six months after Hurricane Harvey devastated much of Houston. He’s also leaving the city with the district facing a multi-million-dollar budget shortfall, as well as impending job and program cuts.
“I think what makes it difficult here in Texas is that we have a funding system for public schools that’s not friendly to public schools,” Carranza says.
He accepted a new job although his contract with HISD isn't up until August 2019. “And no indication that it was going to be extended, so at some point people have to understand that I also have a family. I also have responsibilities,” says Carranza.
The outgoing superintendent believes he's leaving the district better than when he arrived.
“I inherited a culture where teachers were not, this is just my humble opinion, were not treated like the professionals that they are and we’ve been able to make sure that everybody who was promised something under the bond is getting what they were promised,” Carranza says.
What are his plans in New York where there is no school board but rather a mayoral controlled district?
“There is that synergy with Mayor de Blasio and I," Carranza says. "We will be working very, very hard on ensuring equality for all students. We will be working very, very hard on, in New York they are called renewal schools, here we call them our historically underserved schools.”
Superintendent Carranza will leave HISD at the end of the month and begin working as Chancellor in New York next month.
“I will always have a piece of Houston in my heart,” Carranza says.
Carranza’s $345,000 a year salary will remain the same in New York as it was in Houston.
A hypothetical Houston ISD employment listing could easily look like this:
-Leader for 7th largest school district in America.
-Facing $200 million deficit.
-Multiple chronically failing schools threatened with closure.
-More than 70 percent of students economically disadvantaged.
-Facilities recently hammered by flooding from major hurricane.
-Inexperienced need not apply.
Finding the right replacement for the aborted 18-month tenure of Superintendent Richard Carranza is a challenge that falls to Sue Deigaard and her eight fellow Houston ISD Trustees.
"I don't want somebody here because they are trying to prove a theory. I don't want somebody here who is trying to build their resume. I want somebody here who is here for Houston's kids," said Deigaard.
And deep caring alone is not enough. Deigaard says nearly a quarter million kids need a leader capable of doing what no one has done before.
"I kept looking for an outlier in the data of low income kids and a successful school district with them and it doesn't exist. So, we need to have that person at our administrative helm that is going to take us to that place,'" said Deigaard.
No one has tracked HISD's weaknesses and strengths more thoroughly than Dr. Bob Sanborn of Children At Risk.
"We should be selling this position as this is maybe the best place in America to come to if you really want to have an impact on public education," said Sanborn.
Sanborn insists the Board's search for transformative leadership cannot not be limited to those some would call the "usual suspects".
"We need to be looking at CEO's of large corporations. People who have run businesses. We need to be looking at activists who really care about children," adding, "This is the type of school district that can attract many types of people, many types of leaders. We need to be open to that and not stick with people who have just run school districts, just run urban school districts. I think we need shining examples of success that we could bring to our school district," said Sanborn.
Veteran HISD Trustee Wanda Adams tells FOX 26 she will be looking for a leader with substantial Texas experience, deep financial acumen, the ability to recruit the nation's best and a commitment to the long haul.