Houston ISD Superintendent Abelardo Saavedra plans to step down from his post by spring of 2010, he announced this morning.
“I have recently informed the school board of my intention to retire within the next year. I want to make sure that the board has adequate time to conduct a comprehensive national search for my successor,” he said in a written statement. “Selecting a superintendent is the most important decision that a board makes. Making the right decision ensures that the progress that we have made as a district, as a community, will continue forward. I have full confidence the board will select an individual that will take this district to the next level of performance.”
Saavedra has led Texas’ largest school district since June 2004, first serving as interim superintendent before being named the permanent chief a few months later. He is the Houston Independent School District’s first Hispanic superintendent.
Saavedra, who will turn 58 later this month, has had a rough run lately, from the district’s $805 million bond referendum barely passing in November 2007 to the recent parent outcry over his proposal to reduce busing to the popular magnet schools. Several school trustees have repeatedly criticized Saavedra’s poor community skills, saying he fails to reach out to the community and to the school board.
However, student test scores and school ratings under Saavedra’s tenure have generally risen, and the district announced last week that Saavedra’s performance earned him a $77,500 performance bonus on top of his annual $327,000 salary.
That more or less captures my opinion of the man. He’s done some very good things, and he’s done some things that have made me shake my head and say “What the hell was he thinking?” Whoever replaces him will have some big challenges, but will also have a system that has a lot of good things going for it. Building on those good things, replicating their own successes within the system, and improving on HISD’s openness and communications with its stakeholders will be the top priorities. Best of luck to Saavedra in whatever he wants to do next, and to HISD in finding his successor.