Leslie's at the Dallas Independent School District board meeting at this very moment, where the trustees will more than likely announce who will temporarily take Michael Hinojosa's place now that he's off to become a Georgia peach. Shocking -- they're in closed session. Ah, but speaking of: The district just sent the outgoing super's farewell, as he officially tendered his resignation moments ago in order to take that $265,000-a-year gig in Cobb County.
Says Hinojosa, whose last day will be June 30:
"It certainly isn't easy to be an urban school superintendent in today's environment, but I am proud of what this community has accomplished during the last six years. More students are graduating, more students are scoring at college-ready levels and our teachers and principals are better-trained. I hope whoever the board chooses as its next superintendent is provided the same opportunities to make improvements to continue the momentum on behalf of the students of this community. I am thankful to trustees, our staff and so many other leaders and stakeholders in Dallas who have been part of this experience."
The whole essay follows.
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SUPERINTENDENT MICHAEL HINOJOSA RESIGNS FROM DALLAS ISD
Accepts Superintendent Position in Cobb County, Georgia
DALLAS-Superintendent of Schools Michael Hinojosa submitted his letter of resignation from the Dallas Independent School District today to accept a similar position in Cobb County, Georgia.
Dr. Hinojosa has served as the superintendent for the state's second-largest school district for six years -- the longest term since Linus Wright held the position in the 1980s. His last day with Dallas ISD will be Thursday, June 30, 2011.
"It has been an honor to serve as superintendent for the school district I attended as a child and where I started my teaching career," said Hinojosa. "I am enormously proud of our shared accomplishments--the biggest of which is that the number of students graduating from Dallas ISD schools is at its highest since 1983."
This school year, Dallas ISD expects to graduate a total of 7,200 students, up from 5,800 four years ago. The number has steadily risen each of the last four years.
Under Dr. Hinojosa's leadership, the school district implemented a systemwide curriculum that was developed by teachers. In addition, principals for schools that had vacancies during the last six years were selected through a collaborative process that allowed staff and the community to provide input.
A $1.37 billion bond program to build and improve school facilities that was approved by voters in 2002 was implemented on schedule and under budget. Another $1.35 billion bond program that was approved by voters in 2008 will build 14 more schools, 13 additions and provide renovations to more than 200 district facilities.
Dallas ISD also became known throughout the country for its leadership in arts education. The Wallace Foundation provided an $8 million grant for the district to partner with Big Thought and the City of Dallas to provide more arts opportunities for students both during and after school.
Under Dr. Hinojosa's leadership, schools in the southern sector received a significant boost. Two early college high schools are now operating, an all-boys school will open this fall, as will a New Tech High School and three renovated/new schools will open in Wilmer-Hutchins signaling a rebirth of education in that community.
Grants from the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation enabled the Dallas Independent School District to become a pioneer in the world of student data. The grants gave principals and teachers access to data dashboards, as well as established a Parent Portal for parents to monitor the progress of their students.
During his six-year tenure, Dr. Hinojosa responded to several crises, including the dissolution of neighboring Wilmer-Hutchins ISD and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, all of which caused an unexpected influx of additional students into Dallas ISD. The biggest crisis was a budget miscalculation that eventually forced the layoff of hundreds of staff during the 2008-09 school year.
Since then, the district has put in place a number of financial controls and rebuilt its fund balance to safer levels. The district now faces a significant cut in state funding because of a statewide budget shortfall.
"It certainly isn't easy to be an urban school superintendent in today's environment, but I am proud of what this community has accomplished during the last six years," said Hinojosa. "More students are graduating, more students are scoring at college-ready levels and our teachers and principals are better-trained. I hope whoever the board chooses as its next superintendent is provided the same opportunities to make improvements to continue the momentum on behalf of the students of this community. I am thankful to trustees, our staff and so many other leaders and stakeholders in Dallas who have been part of this experience."
One of Dr. Hinojosa's hallmarks was to make unannounced visits to the district's 225 schools each Wednesday morning. He said the experiences kept him grounded on what was most important in the life of a large, urban school district.
"Every school has individuals who are devoted to helping our students succeed," said Hinojosa. "I couldn't help but be moved by the dedication of so many people -- from custodians to food service workers, librarians to counselors, aides to front office staff and of course, principals and teachers. The Dallas Independent School District will continue to shine because of each of them. My address may soon be in Georgia, but a part of me will always be in Dallas. It has been a privilege."
Dr. Hinojosa said he is moving to Georgia in part to be closer to his son whose wife is pregnant with their first child. He has two sons who have recently graduated from Hillcrest High School in Dallas who will be attending Ivy League colleges in the fall.