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Houston ISD eliminating hundreds of central office positions, superintendent says

"I know this is a matter of interest to all of you. But first, before I go any further, let me say reorganizations are hard," Superintendent Mike Miles said.

HOUSTON — Houston ISD Superintendent Mike Miles on Friday afternoon announced the district's plans to eliminate hundreds of positions at its central office.

Miles said around 40 positions in the human resources department will be eliminated and somewhere between 500 and 600 positions, around 30% of the department's workforce, will be eliminated in the chief academic office.

"I know this is a matter of interest to all of you. But first, before I go any further, let me say reorganizations are hard," he said.

The chief academic office's main functions are related to curriculum, professional development and school support.

According to Miles, department chiefs have already eliminated some vacancies and are now tasked with looking at their organizational charts and determining whether they need to reorganize or eliminate more positions to become more effective.

About 10% of the positions being eliminated in the chief academic office were vacant. Miles said the remaining positions are currently filled. 

"[Department chiefs] have started to talk to people who will be part of the reduction in force," Miles said. "There are some positions that are still vacant and members of the department who do not receive a position can apply for those vacant positions or vacant positions in other departments."

He said the numbers aren't finalized yet but aims them finished by July 17. The superintendent also said reorganization efforts aren't stopping with these job cuts.

"It's not just those two departments," Miles said. "There will also be a reorganization of communications, school leadership, professional development. Those were the main ones."

He said they also plan to reorganize the finance and chief operations offices but were waiting to do so to not interrupt current summer programs.

Miles emphasized these cuts aren't performance related on an individual level.

"This by no means means that people haven't been working hard or that people aren't doing the job that they were assigned to do. This is about making sure we right-size the central office and also work most efficiently," he said.

He cited an increase in operational costs of the central office and a decrease in student population size for the cuts.

"There are people who are going to be impacted by this. And it's it causes anxiety and rightly so," Miles said. "It's going to be tough on some people and their families. So, I get that. We try to do it in a way that's as fast as possible so people can find other jobs or just move, move to a different position in the organization."

Before being appointed superintendent at Houston ISD, Miles previously served as superintendent for Dallas ISD.

A former DISD employee who wanted to remain anonymous told KHOU 11 she was impacted by layoffs when Miles was in charge in Dallas.

"I was a relatively new counselor and I was moved out," she said. "The year that I was let go was the second year that Mr. Miles came to the district. and by this time, things had really, you know, taken a swing for the worse."

She said she's seeing parallels from her own experience to what's happening in HISD now.

"It's the same thing. It's the not listening to people, it's this my way or the highway, it's this whole, it's an air of, 'If you don't play ball by our rules, we have a place for you and that's outside of the district,'" she said.

Houston Federation of Teachers President Jackie Anderson said she's concerned by Miles' announcement.

"I knew that there would be a reorganization in many departments, but this seems like gutting the departments. And, you know, at the risk of who the children are going to be the ones that suffer," Anderson said.

She's worried the cuts could impact services and operations.

"If they are going to have to sustain more cuts, how are those services going to be given to the school in a timely manner?" she said.

Watch Superintendent Mike Miles make the announcement:

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