Dear Councilmembers 

I’m a CPA and spent much of my career as an auditor, so I take an interest in HISD’s financial issues.  At the City, we elect a controller to watch our money. With no elections at HISD, no one can be held accountable. 

I have no confidence our public assets are being safeguarded. Superintendent Mike Miles appointed his long-time colleague, who worked for him at his charter school company, to be both CFO and Chief Operating Officer.  This is a fundamental violation of basic internal controls and a HUGE red flag.

Like Councilman Evans-Shabazz, I am concerned that there is a long-term plan to destroy public education in Texas. I fear Miles’ objective—following orders from Austin— is to make changes that are permanent and irreversible.  If we ever get out of what he euphemistically calls the “intervention,” we will not be able to reconstitute our district.

The most permanent changes he can make are to the physical assets of the district. Shrinking the physical footprint would be irreversible.  He is already planning to sell our real estate.  His 2024-25 budget includes $80 million in “proceeds from sales of property.” 

From minimal board discussions, we know Miles plans to sell off 33 parcels of real estate.  When I requested the list, HISD told me there was no list.  A board of manager I questioned about the sales made references to future confidential closed board sessions with legal staff. It appears Miles wants the list of properties for sale to be kept secret, although it seemed from board discussions that Ric Campo, the real estate developer on the board, knows the details.

HISD’s properties are often large and close-in, in gentrifying areas—unique and highly desirable.   Some we’ve owned for over a hundred years.  Take HSPVA, on a downtown block near Discovery Green. As far back as 1886, the block that is now HSPVA housed the Houston Normal School, which later became Central High, and then Sam Houston High School. It was HISD headquarters until 1970. For the next fifty years HISD held onto it as a parking lot.  

WE held onto that land, and now have a flagship school there. These valuable tracts are OUR family jewels.  If the real estate has appreciated over that hundred years, then that’s OUR appreciation, OUR inheritance.  That Miles will sell them to fund regular everyday operations is unconscionable.

If a school or facility is sold, it’s gone forever.  

Sarah Terrell