Author Archives: HISD Communications

Paolo Castagnoli named new principal of Madison High School

Paolo Castagnoli poses for a photograph during the Professional Learning Series at NRG Center, June 15, 2016. (Dave Einsel/Houston ISD)Paolo Castagnoli has been selected as the new principal of Madison High School. Most recently, Castagnoli was the principal of Black Middle School. He has been with HISD for 12 years, serving as teacher and assistant principal at Scarborough and East Early College high schools. Prior to coming to HISD, Castagnoli taught social studies and served as department chair for six years at YES Prep Southeast Campus. During his tenure at Black Middle, the school has received its first five distinctions, was named to the Texas Honor Roll, and earned awards for academics, athletics, and fine arts, including first place in district academic UIL in 2016 and first place in UIL one-act play in 2017. Castagnoli holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in education from the University of Houston.

HISD Superintendent Richard Carranza accepts new role in NYC

Houston Independent School District Superintendent Richard Carranza on Monday announced his decision to end his tenure as the leader of Texas’ largest school district.

Carranza assumed his role as superintendent with unanimous Board of Education approval in August 2016, promising to improve student academic achievement, provide student support through wraparound services, and create a system of equity for the district’s 284 schools.

“It has been an honor and privilege to have served the students of the Houston Independent School District and bring a voice to communities that have historically been underserved,” Carranza said. “It is with a heavy heart that I announce my departure as I embark on this new journey. I am looking forward to the opportunity of serving the 1.1 million students in New York City. I am forever grateful to the people of Houston for allowing me to be a part of this great city.”

While Carranza leaves in the midst of HISD facing several challenges, we are confident in the ability to overcome those challenges with viable solutions.

“We the Board wish Carranza the best in his endeavors and appreciate the leadership he brought to this district,” said President Rhonda Skillern-Jones. “We are committed to continuing the work he began and moving the district forward.”

The Board will meet on Thursday to discuss next steps.

HISD budget deficit projection reduced to $115 million

Click here for details

As HISD continues to prepare a budget for the 2018-19 school year, the district anticipates a projected deficit reduction from $208 million to $115 million. This revised deficit includes several budget assumptions related to Hurricane Harvey relief and pending litigation.

When HISD first began budgeting for the 2018-2019 school year, it was in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Using a worst-case scenario, the district’s financial team projected a $208 million deficit based on four dynamic factors: the Local Optional Homestead Exemption (LOHE) lawsuit, a recapture payment to the state, a potential property tax value decreaseand an anticipated student enrollment decline. District administrators crafted a revised budget outlook for the 2018-19 school year.

Community meetings scheduled on budget deficit

The district’s legal team feels confident that the state will prevail in the LOHE lawsuit. For HISD, this means a reduction in its recapture payment because the TEA will recognize half of the 20 percent local homestead exemption given to homeowners. A decision in the lawsuit could come after a hearing this spring. A win would reduce HISD’s recapture payment by $51 million.

Under the Texas Education Code, TEA Commissioner Mike Morath has the authority to adjust property values. Based on the damage sustained from Hurricane Harvey and the lasting impact of the storm on our students and staff, we anticipate the commissioner will adjust property values, which in turn, would reduce our recapture payment. Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, and other state leaders have publicly stated their support for this action. Click here to review a September 2017 press release from Lt. Governor Dan Patrick that confirms his support for schools districts in Region IV impacted by Hurricane Harvey, which includes HISD. In addition, Commissioner Morath surveyed school districts after the hurricane to gather projections on their property tax collections post-Harvey. HISD estimates a $42 million adjustment for property value loss associated with Hurricane Harvey.

In addition, the HISD Board of Education favors a district budget performance review to be conducted by a firm that has previously worked with large school district budgets. An agenda item is anticipated for the April 2018 board meeting. If approved, an immediate audit would begin with a completion date set for the end of the year.

Jacqueline Thompson named new principal of Cullen Middle School

Jacqueline Thompson poses for a photograph, April 4, 2016. (Houston ISD/Dave Einsel)Jacqueline Thompson has been selected as the new principal of Cullen Middle School. Thompson has 20 years of experience with Team HISD. Thompson began her teaching career as an English teacher at Jack Yates High School before moving into administrative roles as dean of instruction at Patrick Henry Middle School, counselor at Gregory-Lincoln K-8, and assistant principal at Dowling Middle School (now Lawson Middle School). She returned to Yates High School two years ago as dean of students. A native Houstonian and a graduate of Furr High School, Thompson has a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in Educational Administration from Prairie View A&M University.

Joseph E. Williams Sr. named new principal of Wheatley High School

Joseph Williams poses for a photograph, September 2, 2015. (Houston ISD/Dave Einsel)Joseph E. Williams Sr. has been appointed principal at Wheatley High School. Williams currently serves as principal of Key Fine Arts Academy. Previously, he served as principal of Kelso School for Social Sciences and Matthew W. Dogan Elementary, as well as assistant principal at Vera Escamilla Intermediate in Aldine ISDWilliams began his career with HISD 22 years ago as a fifth-grade teacher at Atherton Elementary. He has worked as a fellow at Harvard University and partnered with the National Center for Urban School Transformation and Building Excellent Schools. Williams earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Texas Southern University, a teaching certificate from University of St. Thomas, and a master of education in administration and supervision from University of Houston. 

Erika Carter named new principal of Key Middle School

Erika Carter poses for a photograph, September 2, 2015. (Houston ISD/Dave Einsel)Erika Carter has been appointed principal at Key Middle School. Carter is a product of HISD and a proud graduate of Kashmere High School. She began her career as a sixth-grade reading teacher at Hamilton Middle School. She served as assistant principal at Garcia Elementary before becoming the principal of Betsy Ross Elementary. Betsy Ross met state standards during Carter’s first year there after being identified as Improvement Required” the previous three years. Academic excellence under Carter continued as the campus earned three state distinctions in 2017. Carter begins her 20th year in HISD by returning to her middleschool roots at Key MiddleShe believes that rigorous instruction, demanding work, and a culture of excellence will prepare her scholars for college and beyond.

Treasure West named new principal of Ross Elementary

Treasure West poses for a photograph, April 4, 2016. (Houston ISD/Dave Einsel)Treasure West has been selected as principal of Betsy Ross Elementary School. West began her 17-year career in education as an elementary school teacher in North Carolina, where she taught for five years. She spent an additional three years teaching in HISD at Montgomery Elementary before she became a Teacher Development Specialist there and coached teachers for eight years. West was also a TDS for four years at Ross Elementary and was instrumental in the school’s academic success that resulted in Ross exiting Improvement Required status with the TEA Accountability System. Most recently, she has been supporting students, families, and teachers as the assistant principal at Wainwright Elementary. West holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from North Carolina A&T State University, a master’s degree in elementary education from the University of North Carolina at Fayetteville, and a master of business administration in educational leadership from the University of St. Thomas.

HISD schools, offices closed Wednesday due to inclement weather conditions

Offices expected to reopen and classes expected to resume on Thursday

Houston Independent School District schools and offices will be closed Wednesday, Jan. 17 as a precautionary measure because of inclement weather and the related potential for dangerous road conditions.

HISD officials have been monitoring the weather forecast and have determined that continuing icy road conditions across the Houston area may make for dangerous driving on Wednesday morning. As a result, all HISD schools and district administrative offices will be closed Wednesday as a precautionary measure.

Schools and offices are expected to reopen at their regularly scheduled time on Thursday, Jan. 18.

For additional information, visit www.houstonisd.org, call the HISD Inclement Weather Hotline at 713-556-9595, or follow the district on Twitter and Facebook: www.twitter.com/houstonisd and www.facebook.com/houstonisd. If you are an HISD parent or employee with a phone number registered in the HISD system, you also can sign up for HISD text alerts by texting YES to 68453.

HISD schools, offices closed Tuesday due to inclement weather conditions

Offices expected to reopen and classes expected to resume on Wednesday

Houston Independent School District schools and offices will be closed Tuesday, Jan. 16 as a precautionary measure because of inclement weather and the related potential for dangerous road conditions.

HISD officials have been monitoring the weather forecast and have determined that icy road conditions across the Houston area may make for dangerous driving on Tuesday. As a result, all HISD schools and district administrative offices will be closed Tuesday as a precautionary measure.

Schools and offices are expected to reopen at their regularly scheduled time on Wednesday, Jan. 17.

For additional information, visit www.houstonisd.org, call the HISD Inclement Weather Hotline at 713-556-9595, or follow the district on Twitter and Facebook: www.twitter.com/houstonisd and www.facebook.com/houstonisd. If you are an HISD parent or employee with a phone number registered in the HISD system, you also can sign up for HISD text alerts by texting YES to 68453.

Olivia Casares named new principal of Lyons Elementary School

Olivia Casares has been selected as the new principal for Lyons Elementary School. Casares is a veteran educator with 23 years of experience. Prior to joining HISD, she began her career as a bilingual elementary teacher in the Point Isabel School District. She later took on the same role at Love Elementary School in HISD. She joined the Lyons staff in 1999 and in 2005 was named the North District Bilingual Teacher of the Year. For the last seven years, she has served in the role of Assistant Principal at Lyons. Casares earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Texas-Brownsville and a Masters in Educational Administration from Concordia University.