Harlingen gets a shot at school leadership program

HARLINGEN — Texas has more than 1,000 school districts.

Only 26 have been selected to apply for the Premier Leadership Program funded by millionaire philanthropist Charles Butt.

The Harlingen school district is one of them.

“We are pretty excited,” said School Board President Gerry Fleuriet.

“It speaks a lot about what we are doing,” she said. “He’s been a major supporter of public education. We are surprised to hear about it.”

She’s surprised, as are probably many, because the district didn’t apply for it. They were selected to apply by The Holdsworth Center, a premier leadership institute based in Austin, said Kate Rogers, media spokesperson.

“They were districts we selected based on strong leadership at the superintendent level,” she said. “They were districts where the superintendent had a great reputation for being an innovative leader already.”

School districts have until Monday to apply, and the six winners will be announced in mid-April. Superintendent Art Cavazos says the district will apply for the leadership program.

“I am humbled and honored that our district was selected by the Holdsworth Foundation as one of 26 to apply to this premier leadership program,” Cavazos said. “It speaks to the excellent work and leadership of our board of trustees and staff.”

Rogers said the 26 districts already recognized the importance of leadership and its importance for student achievement.

“The districts also have a history of implementing successful system-wide change,” she said. “There’s a strong relationship between the superintendent and the board of trustees and there’s stability within the board.”

The Premier Leadership Program is not a traditional initiative in which people attend and then bring their experiences back to the district. It’s a long-term, five-year partnership between the Holdsworth Center and school district.

“It’s to transform the way they identify, cultivate, train and support future leaders within the district,” Rogers said.

Of the 26 districts invited to apply, six winners will be announced in mid-April.

Around Texas

The Holdsworth Center was created only a few weeks ago to support and develop public school leaders to improve the quality of education in Texas schools. Millionaire philanthropist Charles Butt has promised to invest more that $100 million for its creation.

The 26 districts invited to apply for the Premier Leadership Program:

Aldine ISD

Alief ISD

Arlington ISD

Austin ISD

Brownsville ISD

Cedar Hill ISD

El Paso ISD  

Fort Worth ISD

Frenship ISD

Grand Prairie ISD

Grapevine-Colleyville ISD

Harlingen CISD

Killeen ISD

Klein ISD

Lamar CISD

Laredo ISD

Lubbock ISD

Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD

Round Rock ISD

San Antonio ISD

Socorro ISD

Southwest ISD

Spring Branch ISD

Temple ISD

Tyler ISD

Victoria ISD