Board of Education looks at class-size waivers, superintendent search firm

The Houston Independent School District Board of Education on Thursday voted to approve a plan to submit 875 class-size waivers to the state for the 2015-2016 school year – more than a 40 percent decrease compared with the previous year.

State law requires each school district in Texas to conduct a class-size enrollment survey to ensure that kindergarten through fourth-grade classes have no more than 22 students per classroom. Classes that exceed that number must request a waiver from the Texas Education Agency.

Last year, HISD had to submit nearly 1,500 class-size waiver requests that meant more than 4,300 students were in over-sized classrooms. This year, the number of students in over-sized classrooms is reduced almost by half.

Also on Thursday, trustees voted to:

  • Approve a plan to issue a request for proposals from superintendent search firms. HISD Superintendent Terry Grier has said he plans to step down on March 2, 2016, and the board is beginning the process of searching for his replacement. According to a timeline established by the board last month, trustees would interview potential search firms in the latter half of November, with the ultimate goal of making a final firm selection in December. Once a search firm is selected, the board will begin gathering community input on the search process.
  • Give final approval to revisions to the district’s policy for naming and renaming school buildings and other district facilities. The policy revision, which received preliminary board approval in September, outlines a process for which school trustees could initiate the renaming of a facility, if they believe it to be in the best interest of the district. It also calls for all new names to be in accordance with the district’s non-discrimination policies.
  • Approve a contract to begin abatement only in a portion of Yates High School. Abatement is the first step in preparation for construction of a new school, which is being built under the 2012 bond program.