Melinda Garrett, who served the Houston Independent School District as chief financial officer from 2001 to 2012 and won numerous honors and accolades for fiscal responsibility, has died at the age of 65.
Under Garrett’s leadership, HISD gained a national reputation for excellence in public school financial accountability and also maintained the highest possible bond rating and the lowest property tax rate in Harris County.
In 2011, HISD became the first U.S. school district in three years to win the prestigious Award for Excellence in Financial Management from the Council of the Great City Schools. In 2010, Garrett won the Council’s Bill Wise Award for distinguished service to America’s urban public schools. It was under Garrett’s leadership that the plan for a nearly $2 billion bond for new and renovated schools was proposed. The bond was overwhelmingly approved by voters shortly after Garrett’s retirement in 2012.
“No single person has contributed more than Melinda Garrett toward HISD’s national reputation as a model district when it comes to managing taxpayer money with a focus on doing what is best for children,” then-Superintendent Terry Grier said at the time of Garrett’s retirement in 2012. “It is because of Melinda’s excellent long-term financial planning during these tight budget times that our students have the resources they need to continue out-performing their peers across the state and nation.”
A Bellaire High School graduate, Garrett began her career with HISD in 1976 as a kindergarten teacher at the former Easter Elementary School. After earning her master’s degree in accounting from the University of Houston-Clear Lake, she joined the audit division of KPMG Peat Marwick and became a certified public accountant.
Garrett returned to HISD in 1985 as the district’s controller. She was named chief financial officer in 2001. In 2009, the HISD Board of Education named Garrett interim superintendent before Grier was hired.
Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 6, at Earthman Bellaire Funeral Home (4525 Bissonnet St.). Services will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 7, also at Earthman Bellaire Funeral Home.