Expanded spending power by the state-appointed superintendent, a request to hire uncertified teachers and several policy changes affecting employees were among the measures approved by Houston ISD board members during the board’s Aug. 10 meeting.

How we got here

The Texas Education Agency ousted former HISD Superintendent Millard House II and its elected board of trustees in June, replacing them with a new board of managers and superintendent.

HISD Superintendent Mike Miles, who formerly served as superintendent of Dallas ISD, was appointed by the TEA to help improve the district’s accountability ratings and board governance.

Financial policy changes

Board members approved several measures that will allow Miles to approve spending without board approval, including:
  • The ability to make purchases of up to $1 million, up from the previous limit of $100,000
  • The ability to approve settlements of up to $100,000, an increase from the previous $5,000 limit
Board members initially proposed raising Miles’ spending limit to $2 million, but officials opted to reduce the figure to $1 million before the meeting. Additionally, an amendment was added to the measure that will require Miles to produce quarterly board reports of purchases between $250,000-$1 million.

New hire policy

Board members also approved a series of measures aimed at helping the officials fill 63 remaining teacher vacancies and other positions, including:
  • Authorizing the district to ask the TEA to waive certification requirements for teachers for the upcoming school year
  • Authorizing the district to ask the TEA to waive certification requirements for assistant principals and deans for the next three school years
  • Removing the requirement for the district to confirm employee information on applications before hiring them
Quotes of note

“There isn't a public school district in the U.S. where any superintendent should make $1 million decisions without public visibility," Houston ISD parent Mindy Wilson said.

"I think [the quarterly report on purchases between $250,000 and $1 million is] a way to be transparent with our community. That is helpful for me so that when I go to the community I know what those expenses are, so that I can explain exactly what we’re doing as a board,” HISD Board Member Rolando Martinez said

“This is a give and take with the board of managers. We try to make policy together. We also try to make sure that we can do what’s effective for getting the outcomes you want for kids—but also to hear if the board has any concerns, and to adjust accordingly so that we can keep moving forward," HISD Superintendent Mike Miles said

Moving forward

HISD’s first day of classes is scheduled for Aug. 28. The district’s next board meeting will be held Sept. 14.