HISD Could See Potential Names This Week

Houston School District board members should later this week get their first look at a long list of potential candidates to replace the departing Dr. Abe Saavedra. He plans to step down as superintendent at the end of august. As Jack Williams reports, one national superintendent recruitment expert says the Houston job should attract a lot of very qualified candidates.

“We kind of use Houston as a model for others to emulate.”

Tim Quinn is managing director of alumni relations for the Broad Center, a Los Angeles-based firm that trains and recruits school superintendents nationwide.

“When it comes to instruction, I don’t know that anybody has made greater strides and has been more creative in terms of things like pay-for-performance than Houston.”

Quinn hasn’t seen a specific list of candidates interested in the Houston job, but says the district can expect recognizable names who will want to lead HISD. 

“This job ought to be a plum. If the search firm has done their work well, and I have no reason to believe that that’s not the case, you’re going to see some outstanding people interested and you ought to end up with an absolutely wonderful superintendent.” 

The HISD board has made it clear it would seriously consider a non-traditional candidate, possibly someone from a non-profit or a business leader. Quinn says that’s not unusual, but the board should make sure it chooses wisely.

“They’re going to have to make sure that that person has the ability to adapt to the culture of a public organization versus a private corporation and they’re going to have to make sure that that person has the capacity to learn very quickly the core business of
the organization, which is teaching and learning, and that’s not impossible to do. And then the other thing is that the individual is going to have to be very passionate about serving urban youth.” 

So far, the search firm in charge of the superintendent hunt has talked to 112 potential candidates. Around 20 of them have serious interest in the Houston job. HISD Board Trustee Greg Meyers says this is a crucial hire.

“We want to make sure that we get a leader that can take the reforms that we’ve actually implemented to a another level, that we have a leader that can communicate and bring our constituencies together, that can communicate in a very well-rounded, very inclusive manner. I think that’s what we want. We want someone that can continue to drive the reforms that we’ve set-forth, somebody that can be a champion for HISD, somebody that can communicate all the great things that we are doing.”    

The board is expected to get its first look at the list of candidates on Thursday, but those names will not be made public.

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