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Important message from the superintendent

2018 January 22
by HISD Communications

Upcoming budget challenges for 2018-2019 school year

Dear Team HISD,

As we begin a new semester, I am excited about the opportunities and challenges the new year holds. For all of us, 2017 brought difficulty and disruption as we dealt with the devastation of Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath. We are in the process of rebuilding from a storm that will have ramifications long after homes are repaired and schools reopened. Hurricane Harvey may be gone, but HISD continues to grapple with the financial storm left in its wake.

All school districts depend on local property taxes as a primary source of funding. As we look forward, we must consider the possibilities of an expected decrease in our student enrollment and an anticipated decrease in our property values, which will be released in April. When you combine that with our upcoming recapture payment, our district is facing significant budget challenges. These challenges will require us to shift our thinking about how we allocate funds for the upcoming 2018-19 school year at both the school and department level.

In the face of these challenges, it is our obligation to ensure that we deliver a quality education to all students and that all of our schools provide equitable access to essential services, programs and staff. Some of our schools � in particular, the smaller schools � have struggled for years to meet the basic needs of their students. They have not had the essential staff such as a librarian, counselor or nurse, who are critical to encouraging social and academic student success.

Utilizing an equity lens, we have reviewed our current funding model and are recommending that HISD shift to a staffing model for schools in the 2018-2019 school year. Under the new staffing model, or Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) model, principals will still decide whom they will hire, but we as a district will ensure that every school has essential positions. We are recommending this change so we can maximize our austere funding and continue to drive the district�s initiatives � providing wraparound services to support the social and emotional needs of students, expanding fine arts to all students, and ensuring that every school has the essential staff needed to meet the needs of all students. In addition, all HISD departments are taking a hard look at their budgets and staffing models to determine essential services and areas that can be streamlined.

As we make this shift, it is crucial that school leaders are involved in the process of developing the new model and that our schools do not lose the flexibility to meet the unique needs of their community or stifle innovation in the classroom. That�s why all principals will be meeting with our budgeting department to hear more about the proposed FTE model and offer their suggestions, feedback and guidance as we work out all the details of this change.

While we may have made it through Hurricane Harvey, we are now firmly in the financial storm. The financial struggles brought by Harvey, recapture and school finance have put us in a difficult position, but it is our duty to proceed thoughtfully about the resources, materials and staffing we need to ensure we meet our goals of educating the whole child and providing all students with the essential services they need to be successful. Just as Houstonians extended their hands to lift one another up in the face of catastrophe during Hurricane Harvey, we, too, can navigate this financial storm by working together.

I will continue to communicate with you as we navigate this process, and I want to thank you all for your dedication and hard work for the students of HISD.


Richard A. Carranza
Richard A. Carranza
HISD Superintendent

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