The HISD Board of Education voted Thursday to extend Superintendent Terry Grier’s contract through June 2016.
“We are proud of bringing Dr. Grier to Houston,” Trustee Harvin Moore said as he made the two-year contract extension proposal. “We owe it to the children and we owe it to the team … to give him the confidence that we want him to stay here and we believe our community wants him to stay here.”
Trustees voted 6-2 in favor of the contract extension. Trustees Michael Lunceford and Juliet Stipeche voted against the measure. Trustee Anna Eastman was not present for the vote. Trustees Manuel Rodriguez Jr., Harvin Moore, Rhonda Skillern-Jones, Greg Meyers, Larry Marshall, and Paula Harris voted in favor.
Trustee Harris said Dr. Grier has worked with the entire HISD staff to transform the district’s culture into one with higher expectations for all children while accepting no excuses.
“Our teachers are working harder than they’ve ever had to work before. The expectations in this district are extremely high,” Harris said. “We’ve reached milestone after milestone after milestone to show our children are learning. That’s the bottom line, and that’s why we’re making this decision today. It’s about the children.
The academic performance of Houston Independent School District students has improved significantly each year since Dr. Grier was named superintendent in the fall of 2009. For example:
- HISD students scored well enough to earn college credit on 7,106 Advanced Placement exams this year, a 45 percent increase since 2009.
- The number of HISD seniors who scored at the college-ready level in each SAT college entrance exam subject has increased 20 percent in writing, 26 percent in reading, and 41 percent in math.
- Scholarship offers to the most recent HISD graduating class topped $180 million, compared to $51.4 million in 2009.
- The HISD dropout rate now stands at 11.8 percent, while the graduation rate has reached 78.5 percent. Both figures are district records under the modern accountability system.
- Schools in HISD’s Apollo 20 school turnaround program have demonstrated academic gains that are on par with those achieved in the nation’s most successful charter schools.
- Half of the eight-county region’s top 10 elementary, middle and high schools were HISD campuses for the first time ever, according to the 2012 Children at Risk rankings.
- HISD was named one of just four national finalists in 2012 for the most prestigious award in public K-12 education, the Broad Prize for Urban Education. The award recognizes school districts that have made the most consistently strong progress toward closing the achievement gap and raising academic performance for all students.
Earning public trust
Public confidence in the nation’s seventh-largest school district has risen on Dr. Grier’s watch, and students are benefitting from the support. The signs of this widespread support since Dr. Grier’s arrival in Houston include the following:
- HISD won $137 million in competitive grants that benefitted schools in 2011, compared to $68 million in 2009.
- In November, Houston voters overwhelmingly approved the largest school rebuilding bond proposal in Texas history by a 69 percent margin. Forty campuses, most of them high schools, will be entirely rebuilt or renovated under the $1.89 billion bond program, which also includes money to upgrade technology and security at all HISD schools.
Trustee Skillern-Jones said she voted in favor of Dr. Grier’s contract extension so that the superintendent can see the school building program through, and be held accountable for getting the job done.
“I think it’s important because the public has entrusted us with $1.89 billion of their hard-earned tax dollars,” she said.