Verifying rumors that have been floating around the district for days, the Houston Independent School District just announced that Superintendent Terry Grier is bringing in a Maryland administrator as his new chief communications officer.
Aggie Alvez replaces William "Lee" Vela who was hired under previous superintendent Abe Saavedra's regime. Vela will move to the new position of "general manager of student initiatives" with an eye toward increasing student attendance rates.
Alvez, director of communications and family outreadch at the Montgomery County Public Schools in Rockville, Maryland, has previously been in human relations and a high school teacher in that school system. She was also an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center, with a law degree from the University of Baltimore.
According to the press release:
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During her nearly sixteen years at MCPS, Ms. Alvez was responsible for the development of internal and external strategic communications, including crisis communications and coordination of media relations and parent and community outreach. She managed an office with eighty-nine employees, a ten million dollar budget and led the district to win more than ninety local, national and international awards during her tenure. She also elevated the use of video, social media and the web in key aspects of school system operations and conceptualized and managed multi-media campaigns to increase awareness of school system initiatives and generate community support.
"I believe Ms. Alvez's experience, creativity and innovation will take us to the next level in communicating and engaging community support in the efforts we are taking at HISD to make it the best school district in the nation," Grier said Alvarez will supervise six departments: Media Relations, Communications Services, the Information Center, Strategic Partnerships, Instructional Media and Administrative Services.
In his new position, Vela, "will seek corporate and business partners to provide incentives for students and their families as rewards for good attendance. For every one percent increase in attendance the district would receive an additional $10 million dollars in funding." the press release said.
"Lee, in his short time with HISD, has effectively taken six departments and reorganized them into a single unit," said Grier. "I am excited he has taken on this new challenge and I have no doubt he will approach it with the same vigor and dedication.'"