Houston ISD sees new leadership roles in search for 'more efficiency'

Friday, July 30, 2021
HISD superintendent shakes things up ahead of new school year
The school year is around the corner and Superintendent House isn't wasting time in his new role. He's making changes based on these TEA recommendations.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- With the school year right around the corner, Houston ISD is shaking things up after new Superintendent Millard House has made some big changes to the district's leadership while just weeks on the job.

WATCH: New HISD superintendent Millard House lays out his top priorities

Eyewitness News sat down with the new HISD superintendent, Millard House, and nothing was off the table. Right out of the gate, ABC13's Chauncy Glover asked him about the challenges he faces as he takes over, the undertaking of turning around low-performing schools and saving the district from the Texas Education Agency. Here's what he had to say about the possible TEA takeover.

"Over the past several weeks, I have closely examined our district's overall structure and have identified opportunities for it to become more efficient and responsive to student needs," said House in an HISD memo.

The Texas Education Agency had released recommendations on changes districts should implement. What House is now doing is reviewing those recommendations and the changes that were never made.

House recently announced Dr. Rick Cruz as the district's new deputy superintendent. Cruz definitely has quite the resume after having joined HISD's central leadership team in 2013. He was also formerly the chief officer of strategy and innovation for the district.

A new chief of schools was also brought in from out of town.

Dr. Denise Watts was recruited for her nationally recognized leadership in school improvement. She previously served in the Charlotte school district and is known for her ability to turn around schools that are struggling.

"She'll be major help for HISD in turning around our troubled schools and conforming with TEA guidelines," said House. "The school's office will be reorganized by level and tiered so that the support provided to campuses can be tailored by types and levels of need."

As of now, there are three positions open and the restructuring reflects the following.

House said he created a Talent Office.

According to the memo, "the new chief talent operation officer will handle areas such as human capital, compensation and benefits. A performance management will be brought together under the newly established Talent Office to ensure there is alignment and a comprehensive approach to improving culture, developing talent and supporting our staff."

The chief business officer now falls under the areas of finance, facilities, transportation, nutrition services and information technology.

And another big change can be seen in the chief of staff position.

"The Communications and Government Relations departments will be combined into a newly formed Office of Communications and Public Relations that will fall under the chief of staff," said House. "This will enable the district to more effectively engage with external stakeholders, including elected officials and the media."

House also said there are additional updates and changes coming over the next few weeks.

"I am confident that these changes will help us reach our goals as an organization," he said.

RELATED STORY: HISD to change COVID response plan next month

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