Abe Saavedra Is Leaving The Building

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Abe Saavedra, HISD superintendent, announced his resignation this morning to pursue a "second career" at the ripe old age of 58.  

Saavedra's leaving follows a big retreat the board had, where he just might have been told of some boardmembers' continuing frustration with what they've called poor communications.

Especially since Saavedra said today he told the board he was quitting over the holiday break, but board of education president Lawrence Marshall told Hair Balls he just got wind of the news a couple of hours before the press conference.  

Marshall, a retiree himself, said he would not have asked Saavedra to stay had he known sooner because "there's life beyond retirement."  

Saavedra said he would like to pursue a second career in higher education or nonprofit after his tenure ends in March of next year.  His original contract ends Dec. 31, but modifications will be made to give the board an ample amount of time to find a qualified candidate.

His successor, whoever he or she may be, is widely expected to be black. Even though at the announcement board vice president Greg Meyers made sure all of his and Saavedra's remarks were politically correct:  

"Selecting a superintendent is the most important decision that a board makes," Saavedra said. "Making the right decision ensures that the progress that we have made as a district, as a community, will continue forward."

To his credit, Saavedra has improved test scores, which has earned 157 schools exemplary and recognized status, created the Reach Out to Dropouts program and rewarded teachers and staff more than $60 million for increased academic progress.

"My parents taught me to leave a place better than what it was when I arrived," Saavedra said. "I think I will have done that."

On the other hand, he's made more than his fair share of bungles. Board members have sometimes seemed blindsided by his proposals -- like cutting transportation for magnet schools or combining whiz-kid high school Carnegie Tech with the much rougher Worthing.

He'd been on thin ice for a while; it seems the ice finally cracked.

-- Amina Rivera

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