School Board Gets a List of Possible Superintendent Candidates

With less than two months left to the start of the school year, the Houston Independent School District is in need of a new superintendent. Board members received a list of candidates last week. Now they've moved on to start whittling down that list. Laurie Johnson has more.

Current HISD Superintendent Abe Saavedra is a short-timer. He's scheduled to leave the district in August, right as the new school year starts.

HISD Board Member Greg Meyers says a search firm hired to find a replacement narrowed down a list of candidates from more than 100 to about 20 names.

"At our next board meeting my understanding is there's going to be a long list. At that point we'll determine — the board will determine — what we want to do in terms of the amount of candidates that we want to interview, do we want to interview all of them, do we want to weed out some, can we weed out some amongst the nine of us."

The district held a series of townhall-style meetings to determine what kind of person the public thinks should be hired. Board Member Diana Davila says they've put together a specific profile of the ideal candidate.

"Someone that's going to be able to reach out to the communities in every sector, someone that's going to be able to motivate our staff and someone that's going to be able to manage a $1.5 billion budget."

In addition to managing that $1.5 billion budget, the new superintendent will also be responsible for 15,000 employees and 200,000 school kids. Meyers says that's why they're looking at candidates with a broad range of experience, not limited to those with a background in the education sector.

"I think we've seen pluses and minuses on — around the country. There's been examples where business people have been hired, there's been examples where governmental people have been hired. And I think you can point to positives and negatives of each. I think it honestly comes down to the individual."

Although they already have a narrowed down list of candidates, board members say they're still accepting applications.

They've set a goal of naming a new superintendent by the start of the school year. But Meyers says the priority is finding the right person, no matter how long that takes.

Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.
 

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...