Houston Independent School District’s leader Millard House II has passed his first 100 days as superintendent. House began with the district on July 1.
Everything from achievements to challenges.
House reflected on questions and concerns about equity within the district, attracting and retaining qualified educators and staff members and the latest on mask mandates.
House sat down with KPRC 2′s Zach Lashway inside the Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center.
“Number one, we have brought back 194,000 kids after a really arduous pandemic,” House explained.
To make this happen, House made a bold move.
“We had vacancies, 400-and-some-odd vacancies in the school district, we chose to do something majorly different and bring 250 people out of our central office, that were certified, but doing other duties and had other responsibilities, those individuals were assigned to classrooms,” House said.
According to the district, as of Nov. 12, there were 218 teacher vacancies.
As of Nov. 17, the district has:
- 194 Bus Driver vacancies
- 163 Custodial Vacancies
While House said most of those individuals have transitioned back into their roles, retaining and attracting highly qualified teachers, administrators and support staff is top of mind.
“Between now and March, we will take that priority of cultivating great talent as well as four other priorities and build on a strategic plan that we will bring to community,” House said.
From fostering employees, to providing equitable opportunities and resources across the district, ensuring high-quality curriculum is in every school, improving access to great schools within all communities and delivering effective services and support to vulnerable students.
“We don’t want to see one particular area doing it well, or one particular group of schools, we want to see all of our schools practicing in a manner where our special needs students are getting exactly what they need,” House said. “It starts first of all with great leadership, we are excited, we have brought on some great talent to support that work as well.”
House said while some of the challenges his administration has faced is historically engrained within the Houston community, many, if not all have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of the first actions House took when he assumed the role of superintendent was implementing a mask mandate within schools.
“The data is looking much better, it is very encouraging here in Harris County,” House said. “We decided after the Thanksgiving and Christmas break, we want to make sure we get through the holidays, that’s unfortunately where we have seen some spikes, and what we have learned in the course of the last 20 months. So when we come back to start the second semester, we will be reevaluating the mask mandate.”
Lashway asked House if he had to give himself a grade what would it be.
“So I feel very good,” House said. “I don’t know if whether I would give myself a particular grade, but I feel very good about the efforts, I made to understand this community so we could be in a place where we developed the kind of priorities that will lead us to a strong strategic plan.”
Lashway asked if he could say whether it would be a pass or fail grade. House said, “Pass.”
Re-evaluating the mask mandate will depend on local data, which could come independent of any recommendation from the CDC, according to House.
This link shows a map of the vaccination locations. Special Sections / Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates (houstonisd.org)
On the same page you can also find the list of locations: HISD / Houston Health Department COVID-19 Vaccinations – Google Drive
As for the strategic plan, this is a five-year plan, according to House. He said it’s already in the works, they’ve had seven meetings to date, and it will continue to be developed within those five pillars we just spoke about. The entire plan will be unveiled in March.
House discussed the once talked-about state takeover of the district. He said he was not concerned and that he is in contact with the commissioner of education, and they see eye-to-eye on what public education should look like. He said he feels supported and looks forward to his future at HISD.