HISD’s new superintendent outlined his priorities and some challenges in the annual State of the District address.
Right at the top of those priorities, Richard Carranza put funding for arts education, even if budgets are tight.
“All children deserve a rich artistic experience as part of their daily education,” Carranza said.
He continued to tell the sold-out crowd of over 2,000 people at the downtown Hilton Americas Hotel how mariachi music shaped his own life. (But he didn’t perform.)
His remarks on HISD stretched for nearly an hour. The major theme:
“Public education is an investment, not an expense. It’s an investment in our children, an investment in a prosperous future of our city, for our state, for our nation,” he said.
He also addressed some challenges, such as the Texas school finance system. HISD owes millions to the state in what’s called recapture or Robin Hood. Essentially, as a property-wealthy district, HISD has to share revenue with property-poor districts. It will hold a second election in May on how to pay that, because some trustees fear the first vote – for detachment or forgoing some $18 billion in commercial property from its tax base – will end up costing taxpayers more in the long run.
Carranza also said that HISD will take a more centralized approach to education. For years, school principals have made their own decisions on things like teaching strategies.
“We must move from being a confederation of schools to truly an independent school district,” he said.
He also said that he wants to coordinate more community resources to support the 200,000-plus kids in HISD.