So many people went to the George Brown Convention Center to hear a speech...you might have thought President Obama was the keynote speaker. After all he's known for delivering rousing, dynamic speeches. You don't hear many people saying that about HISD superintendent Abe Saavedra. But since he announced his retirement two weeks ago...this could be his last state of the schools address.
"Dr. Abelardo Saavedra."
Saavedra says he's moving on next year to try new things. But he says he's leaving the district in better condition than ever.
"With progress reflected in nearly every measure of student achievement in 2008,Î¾IÎ¾am very confident the state of our schools will be strong for years to come."
Saavedra should be strong for years to come as well—financiallyÎ¾that is. The Houston Chronicle reported that he could take home nearly a million dollar next year when you count unused sick, personal and vacation time, a base salary of more than 300-thousand and a possible 80-thousand dollar bonus. Saavedra did bring up pay in his speech. Teacher pay.
"What if we increase the earnings of our teachers, if they show tangible results. What if we make high performance and annual growth in every school the norm and not the exception. Well in the last five years, we've done that."
Saavedra says test scores continue to rise thanks to the hard work of teachers and principals. Most people in the audience were aware he's stepping down, but he didn't really talk about it...only a thank you at the very end.
"But in the words of one wise optimist: It always seems impossible until it's done. And in HISD it's being done every single day, in every single classroom. Thank you very much for the confidence you have placed in me to lead the best school district in America."
Bill Stamps, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.