Education News

In Performance Review Of HISD, State Agency Finds District Could Save Millions, Board Fosters “Distrust And Animosity”

The Legislative Budget Board found five major areas where HISD can improve and potentially save over $40 million a year.

HISD’s Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center.

Better financial oversight, more streamlined departments and better board operations could all save the Houston Independent School District tens of millions of dollars, according to an outside performance review.

The state’s Legislative Budget Board (LBB) published its analysis of HISD’s management and operations Friday, concluding that the state’s largest district has at least five areas where it could use some major improvement.

“By implementing the recommendations, LBB staff project that Houston ISD could save an average of $42 million annually, with a total five-year savings, including onetime cost decreases, of $237.4 million,” the report said.

The HISD board asked the agency to perform the outside review last year when it approved its 2018-2019 budget. Previously, the board had considered hiring an external audit firm to check out the district’s health.

Among the state budget board’s findings:

  • HISD needs better financial oversight. State administrators say HISD doesn’t have timely financial reporting to monitor its budget. They found the district often pays invoices late and could manage overtime better.
  • HISD could reorganize several departments so they don’t duplicate work and make the organization more efficient.
  • HISD should standardize its programs and services for students, since it currently “lacks a unifying framework, strong oversight, and written procedures for school support officers.”

Finally, the LBB determined that the HISD board doesn’t function effectively as a governing unit and board operations need to improve.

“The board’s conduct fosters an atmosphere of distrust and animosity, resulting in a lack of confidence among district staff and the community,” the report said. “Board members’ actions have diminished the board’s ability to deliberate critical academic, financial, operational, and administrative issues effectively.”

It’s not clear yet how the HISD board will respond to the review. The district is facing a state takeover because of board misconduct and chronic low performance at one high school.

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Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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