In the midst of the legal issues surrounding whether the Houston Independent School District Board of Education would be replaced by a Board of Managers, the district found itself making history this past week, as HISD now has the first all-woman board in the history of the district.
At their first board meeting of 2020, the four new recently elected female trustees were sworn in and immediately joined the five current female trustees to conduct the official business of HISD.
The four new female board trustees are Kathy Blueford-Daniels (District II), Patricia K. Allen (District IV), Daniela “Dani” Hernandez (District III) and Judith Cruz (District VIII).
The first order of business for the historic new board was to elect officers for 2020.
The officers for 2020 are: Susan Deigaard (District V), President; Wanda Adams (District IX), First Vice President; Judith Cruz (District VIII), Second Vice President; Patricia K. Allen (District IV), secretary; and Daniela “Dani” Hernandez (District III), Assistant Secretary.
Some of the items that the Board of Trustees discussed included approving $3.8 million from the Verizon Innovative Learning program, which will provide tablets and connectivity at no cost to every student, teacher, and administrator at six HISD middle schools. The campuses that will received the tablets and connectivity are Edison, Fleming, Hartman, Henry, Holland and Tanglewood middle schools. Each school completed a rigorous competitive process to be selected for the program, which is administered in partnership with Verizon’s nonprofit partner, Digital Promise. Verizon’s program aims to bridge the digital divide that exists in underserved communities by providing students with the connectivity, technological resources, instruction and skills required to succeed in a high tech economy. The program will launch at the schools when teachers will be provided with devices and training. Students will receive devices in August at the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year.
The Board of Trustees also voted to accept a $240,000 City of Houston-Mayor’s After-School Achievement Program grant to expand quality after-school programming for elementary and middle school students. Board members also accepted a progress report from Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan on the implementation of the state’s Legislative Budget Board recommendations for improving operations in HISD.
It was noted that HISD also received the Meritorious Budget Award (MBA) from a worldwide association of school business officials for producing a 2019-2020 budget that is accurate, informative and easy to comprehend. HISD earned the award from the Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO), which has been in existence for 110 years. To receive the honor, the association required the district to submit a substantial packet of detailed budget documents, which were evaluated by a confidential panel of school finance experts. HISD has been participating in the MBA program for 22 years and has earned the honor 21 times. Out of more than 1,000 school districts in Texas, HISD was among only 23 that earned the MBA last year. ASBO encourages districts to pursue MBA honors in order to elevate financial planning, produce informative budgets and foster financial comprehension among taxpayers and the general public. School districts in the U.S. and Canada that meet ASBO’s strenuous requirements are eligible to receive the Meritorious Budget Award.