HISD Board of Education President Rhonda Skillern-Jones said Tuesday that the departure of Superintendent Richard Carranza does not change the vision and mission of the district, which remains committed to delivering a quality education to all children “in a unified way.”
“We are one vision, and that is to ensure IR (Improvement Required) schools come off IR, that we don’t have any additional schools go into IR, and that we can use our use limited dollars in a way that does the least harm to impact our classrooms,” Skillern-Jones said.
She delivered the message standing shoulder to shoulder with fellow trustees, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, state Rep. Alma Allen, and U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. All emphasized that the city, state, and federal government have a role to play in ensuring the success of the district, and that the district is more than one person.
“A lot has happened over last six months, and this is an opportunity for all of us to pause and reassess as we move forward,” Turner said. “I am willing and prepared to join with HISD, the Board, parents, community leaders, and the business community to help stabilize HISD financially and to ensure every child receives the quality education that he or she deserves. We are not going backwards. We are going forward together.”
Allen said that at the state level, she “will do all I can to assist the district in correcting or providing laws that will allow them to proceed in the manner that they need to to provide the very best education for all of the students in HISD.”
Jackson Lee emphasized that all three levels of government have one goal: “to prioritize our children and our families, to say thank you to our teachers and staff, our bus drivers and law enforcement, and to express our appreciation for the unity of the HISD school board.”
“We are holding ourselves accountable for the success of our students,” she said.
She called on the Texas Education Agency to grant a waiver of state accountability testing for one year and a suspension of accountability sanctions. There are still families displaced by Hurricane Harvey, she said, and while we are “a resilient Houston, we are not the Houston and Harris County we have been.”
Jackson Lee also called on the business community to raise $115 million for a one-time infusion to help HISD fill its budget deficit for the 2018-19 school year.
Skillern-Jones said the district has three options to replace Carranza, who is leaving HISD to become chancellor of schools in New York City: choose a short-term interim superintendent and conduct a search immediately; choose a long-term interim and postpone a search; or post the position and hire immediately. She said trustees will discuss the options Thursday during closed session.