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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Grier names 2 outsiders to HISD leadership team

By ERICKA MELLON | Houston Chronicle
Feb. 15, 2010

Houston ISD Superintendent Terry Grier announced Monday that his leadership team will include a charter school executive, a former leader of a suburban Dallas district and an award-winning HISD administrator.

Grier, who came to Houston five months ago from the San Diego school system, has hired the three men as his chief school officers.

One will oversee elementary campuses. Another will supervise middle schools. The other will manage high schools.
National search

Grier said he purposefully conducted a national search to fill the positions, rather than promoting only from within the district.

“We wanted to find candidates who had shared values and beliefs around all students being able to learn,” Grier said. “These are important positions, and we wanted to cast a wide net.”

The lone internal candidate to get the job — overseeing elementary schools — is Sam Sarabia, the interim east region superintendent. He was an executive principal in that area and was principal of Roberts and Port Houston elementary schools. In 2005, he was named principal of the year by the Association of Hispanic School Administrators, according to HISD.
KIPP administrator

The new chief officer for middle schools is Terence Johnson, a former HISD principal who oversees leadership training for the KIPP charter school chain.

To supervise high schools, Grier hired David Simmons, who in August abruptly resigned as superintendent of Richardson ISD, a diverse district outside Dallas.

The district earned the state's “recognized” rating during his tenure, but the school board wanted a leader with a “more strategic vision,” according to the Dallas Morning News.

Simmons has run four other districts, including Texas City ISD. Grier said he was not concerned about Simmons' departure from Richardson.
Salary plus bonus

The chief school officers each will earn annual salaries of $165,000 plus a potential bonus, which has not been determined, according to district spokesman Norm Uhl.

The chiefs will replace HISD's five regional superintendents, who can apply for other jobs in the district but are not guaranteed positions.

Grier said he hopes the new organization will help schools across the city share best practices.

Houston Federation of Teachers President Gayle Fallon said the new structure will help with continuity in the curriculum, but she has some concerns.

“There is a danger that the community will find the district to be more distant and will have a feeling of less ownership and increased alienation,” she said.

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