New HISD Superintendent Millard House II will make $350,000 a year, contract shows
HOUSTON — After three long years, HISD finally has a new superintendent.
Millard House II, the lone finalist for the position, was unanimously approved to be the new HISD chief in charge Monday morning during a board meeting. According to his contract, he will make $350,000 a year compared to about $345,000 a year for outgoing Superintendent Dr. Grenita Lathan.
House will take over as the new superintendent starting July 1.
House said he knows his new role won't be easy, but he's ready for the challenge.
“This work will be difficult, there will be tough decisions. But it’s worth our children,” says House after the vote.
“I am honored and humbled to have this opportunity – I don’t take it lightly," House said. “This work will be difficult, there will be tough decisions -- but it’s worth our children."
“There are a lot of challenges ahead of us – but I think we’re starting from a place of strength," HISD Trustee Sue Deigaard said.
“We did a lot of hard work as a board to get to this point and I’m thrilled you will be the new leader at the helm of this district," HISD Trustee Judith Cruz said.
Who is Millard House II?
Millard House II will be transitioning from Tennessee's Clarksville-Montgomery County School System.
He has been the Director of Schools for the district since 2017.
House is a Tulsa, Oklahoma native with almost three decades of education and nonprofit experience, according to the CMCSS website.
Before being selected as the CMCSS Director of Schools, he served as an Executive Consultant and Executive Director of New Leaders Charlotte in Charlotte, North Carolina. He also served as the Chief Operating Officer of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School System in Charlotte and Deputy Superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools.
House earned his Bachelor of Science from the University of Montevallo, Alabama and his Master of Administration in School Administration from Northeastern State University, Oklahoma.
He also graduated from the Fisher School Leadership Program at the Hass School of Business, University of California at Berkeley.
New HISD superintendent Millard House lays out his top priorities
House says he knows he's coming in at a very crucial time, but he has a plan to keep the Texas Education Agency, or TEA, from taking over.
"We've had an opportunity to engage in conversation, and I shouldn't even say conversation listening to TEA, and what we know is there have been some historical issues, and I think the district owns its part in those issues. But it's a new day. A big majority of those issues were four years ago, five years ago, so we're going to be working hard with the TEA," he said.
Historical issues, indeed.
One glaring issue is the discord among the school board. House says he's already working on bringing the current board together.
"I decided to bring my board together and do our first board retreat on day one. From the day they hired me going back to June, or announced that I was the lone finalist to July 1, there's momentum. It's going to be important that I push the envelope from a leadership standpoint that that momentum continues. That I get to know them and they trust me, I trust them, and we get the work done in a professional manner," he added.
House also talked about turning around low-performing schools.
"One thing that's going to be extremely helpful as we look at our highest-need schools is equity. We've got to focus our efforts on making sure that the kids that need these extra dollars, that need the kind of support that comes along with COVID relief dollars get it. We're going to be pushing to provide that support and identify exactly the who, the when and the where," explained House.
House has an extensive career in education from being a principal to chief operating officer.
He comes to HISD after serving as the Clarksville-Montgomery County School Systems Director of schools. HISD is five times bigger than that district.
House acknowledges people may be asking if he really knows what he's getting himself into with a much larger district.
"That's a fair assessment, but I've had experiences in large school systems as well as the chief operating officer in one of the country's largest school systems. I know what those systems and processes look like. I know what it is to execute at a large scale," he said.
House says that for the first three months on the job, he's focusing on three things: re-engaging staff, students, parents and the community, opening schools safely and a bold strategic plan to turn things around.
HISD parents, here's his message to you.
"My job is to ensure that I lead you in the direction of ensuring that your kids get exactly what they need. I commit to you that that's what I'm going to do. I'm looking forward to ensuring that my leadership team, our board with HISD, focuses its efforts on exactly what we need to focus on and that's children," he said.
House also talked about his life outside of work.
"I love spending time with my wife of 24 years. I love spending time with my 10-year-old son and my 16-year-old daughter. They are my heartbeat and when they are happy, I am happy. I really ask them what they want to do when we get a few moments of free time, but making them smile is what makes me smile," he said.
House says he's also spending a lot of time working closely with health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in preparation of opening schools safely.
SEE MORE: Lone finalist for HISD superintendent Millard House II promises reform and urges no state takeover
SEE MORE: Dr. Grenita Lathan says 'she did what was asked' during time as HISD's interim superintendent
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The Houston ISD Board of Education voted unanimously to name Millard House II as permanent superintendent of the largest public school district in Texas.
Mr. House most recently served as superintendent of the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System (CMCSS) in Tennessee. He is a 26-year educator who started as a physical education teacher then went on to hold positions as chief operating officer and superintendent.
The Board of Education named House as superintendent after an extensive process of gathering stakeholder input, a nationwide search that included a diverse pool of applicants, and a comprehensive interview process of the top candidates. Trustees named Mr. House as their lone finalist on May 21, but state law requires a 21-day waiting period before signing a contract.
“I am so proud and so honored to say that we will be working as a team of ten,” said HISD Board of Education President Dr. Patricia Allen.
Mr. House says he was drawn to HISD because he saw a district working relentlessly to equitably educate the whole child and ensure every student graduates with the tools to reach their full potential. Serving more than 196,000 students in 276 schools, HISD is the seventh largest district in the nation.
“I am honored and humbled to have this opportunity,” said Mr. House. “I do not take this responsibility lightly. This work will be difficult. There will be tough decisions, but it will be worth it for our children.”
Mr. House had been with CMCSS since 2017 and in May, he was named the Tennessee Mid-Cumberland Superintendent of the Year. He was appointed assistant principal of Anderson Elementary in Tulsa, Oklahoma at age 25 and was promoted to principal the following year. During his five years at the school, it went from being one of the lowest-performing Title I schools in the state to one of the highest. In 2003, he became the first African American to win the Tulsa Public Schools’ Principal of the Year Award. He was also named Outstanding Administrator of the Year by the Tulsa Area Alliance of Black School Educators.
Mr. House earned his bachelor’s from the University of Montevallo in Alabama and his master’s in school administration from Northeastern State University in Oklahoma. He also graduated from the Fisher School Leadership Program at the University of California, Berkeley’s Hass School of Business.
After a lengthy process of gathering stakeholder input, a nationwide search that included a diverse pool of applicants, and a comprehensive interview process, the HISD Board of Education has announced Millard House as the lone finalist for superintendent of the Houston Independent School District
House currently serves as Director of Schools (Superintendent) of Clarksville-Montgomery School Systems in Clarksville, Tennessee.
HISD Board President Dr. Patricia Allen said House is a great fit to serve the district as its next leader.
“As we regain our footing from a difficult year navigating the pandemic, it’s an opportunity to start anew and lay the groundwork for the important decisions and strategies we will need to implement to address the loss of learning and the mental and emotional toll our students and staff have experienced,” she said. “I am proud that our new superintendent will be inheriting a passionate, diverse, resilient team that is focused on investing in the whole child.”
House looks forward to working with trustees, parents, staff, students, and the HISD community on a shared vision of providing the very best educational experience for all students.
“I am excited to be joining Houston ISD and look forward to building on the district’s strengths and expand the educational opportunities for all students,” House said. The board will officially vote on the position at its June meeting. Pending approval, after the expiration of the 21-day period, House will begin his role as superintendent in June 2021.
Houston ISD sees new leadership roles in search for 'more efficiency'
WATCH: New HISD superintendent Millard House lays out his top priorities
"Over the past several weeks, I have closely examined our district's overall structure and have identified opportunities for it to become more efficient and responsive to student needs," said House in an HISD memo.
The Texas Education Agency had released recommendations on changes districts should implement. What House is now doing is reviewing those recommendations and the changes that were never made.
House recently announced Dr. Rick Cruz as the district's new deputy superintendent. Cruz definitely has quite the resume after having joined HISD's central leadership team in 2013. He was also formerly the chief officer of strategy and innovation for the district.
A new chief of schools was also brought in from out of town.
Dr. Denise Watts was recruited for her nationally recognized leadership in school improvement. She previously served in the Charlotte school district and is known for her ability to turn around schools that are struggling.
"She'll be major help for HISD in turning around our troubled schools and conforming with TEA guidelines," said House. "The school's office will be reorganized by level and tiered so that the support provided to campuses can be tailored by types and levels of need."
As of now, there are three positions open and the restructuring reflects the following.
House said he created a Talent Office.
According to the memo, "the new chief talent operation officer will handle areas such as human capital, compensation and benefits. A performance management will be brought together under the newly established Talent Office to ensure there is alignment and a comprehensive approach to improving culture, developing talent and supporting our staff."
The chief business officer now falls under the areas of finance, facilities, transportation, nutrition services and information technology.
And another big change can be seen in the chief of staff position.
"The Communications and Government Relations departments will be combined into a newly formed Office of Communications and Public Relations that will fall under the chief of staff," said House. "This will enable the district to more effectively engage with external stakeholders, including elected officials and the media."
House also said there are additional updates and changes coming over the next few weeks.
"I am confident that these changes will help us reach our goals as an organization," he said.
RELATED STORY: HISD to change COVID response plan next month
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