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Sharyland trustees name lone superintendent finalist

The Sharyland ISD school board named Dr. Elaine Howard the lone finalist in their superintendent search, moving one step closer to hiring a new district leader.

Photo of Dr. Elaine Howard courtesy of Sharyland ISD

The announcement is a culmination of a months-long process that required the trustees to comb through the applications of about 29 candidates, according to Board President Jose “Pepe” Garcia. Six candidates made it to the interview phase; three moved on to the next round. Ultimately, Howard — the deputy superintendent of Boerne ISD — wowed the trustees. The officials named her the lone finalist at the March 25 school board meeting.

Howard is originally from the San Antonio area. The 49-year-old earned her doctorate in educational leadership from Lamar University and has an undergrad degree in biology from Stephen F. Austin State University.

As the deputy superintendent of Boerne ISD, she is the second in command in the district, which has a student population of about 11,000. Howard’s previous roles include executive director and chief of human resources and coordinator of professional development.

Most of Howard’s employment has been in the San Antonio and Austin areas. However, she is familiar with Sharyland’s reputation as an educational institution.

“Sharyland ISD is considered a premier school district in the state of Texas,” the educator said. “So having the opportunity to come down where there is such a successful school system, the culture is so positive, the people are so good, the students outperform many students across the state, and it’s just rich with excellence and tradition — I’m just so excited to be part of it.”

Per state law, the SISD board cannot vote to hire a new superintendent until at least 21 days after they announce the lone finalist. The trustees cannot offer Howard a contract until after the mandatory waiting period, but she was clear about her interest in the position.

“I have let them know that once that waiting and vetting is completely done, that I look forward to the formal acceptance of the position,” Howard explained.

When asked what made the San Antonio native stand out above other applicants, the board president said Howard’s experience in finance and human resources gained his approval.

Trustee Maritza Venecia said she felt Howard had transformational leadership in her interviews.

“She was very structured, very confident,” Venecia explained. “She’s got a lot of experience from Boerne and she just has these, not only visions, but also very clear ideas on how to execute those visions. And her plans for how to execute those visions really impressed me.”

Although Howard has never been first in command in a school district, Venecia said her qualifications still paralleled Sharyland ISD’s needs.

“She had all of the qualities and all of the experience needed for a superintendency that matched with her intelligence, her ideas, her ability to articulate the execution of her vision,” the trustee said. “And I feel like what she envisions for Sharyland aligns with what our kids and community deserve.”

Before the board members looked at candidate applications, they studied the feedback from the online surveys community members submitted to aid in the search for a new hire. The data from the surveys helped trustees make their selection for the lone finalist.

Howard said she plans to relocate to Sharyland in the next few weeks. She looks forward to making a home and connecting with the community, which is what she most enjoys about being an educator.

“The district itself just leads with heart so it just resonates with me,” Howard said. “And I just cannot wait to become a part of the family.”

Last fall, Sharyland ISD Superintendent Dr. Maria Vidaurri announced her plans to retire from education at the end of this school year after six years with the district. As a result, the trustees enlisted the help of the Texas Association of School Boards to aid them in the superintendent hiring process.

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