The administrator who was supposed to help Dallas ISD create more specialty campuses is leaving after less than a year to take charge of Cedar Hill schools.
Billy Snow, DISD’s chief of transformation and innovation, was named Cedar Hill’s lone finalist for the superintendent job during a specially called board meeting on Saturday. That district began looking for a new leader this spring after its previous superintendent took a similar job in Midland.
Snow, 43, had only been in Dallas about eight months, where he was working on the district’s efforts to launch more school choice options, such as the popular single-gender campuses or STEM academies. He had been recruited back to Texas from the Shreveport area where he gained recognition for turning around some of Caddo Parish’s most struggling schools.
Billy Snow, Dallas ISD s innovation chief, is leaving to become superintendent of Cedar Hill ISD
Snow hadn’t intended to stay in DISD for such a short time but found Cedar Hill to be a natural fit, he said. Last summer he was a speaker at Cedar Hill’s convocation, where he said he felt an instant connection to the staff during that back-to-school event.
“They were such wonderful people with a great spirit,” he said. “I didn’t know they were looking for a superintendent until later. So I thought, ‘Why not throw my name in the hat?’ I truly believe the work we did in Dallas and Shreveport made this the perfect fit.”
Cedar Hill has been working to revamp its own choice offerings, which include a new middle school academy for engineering and science and one for entrepreneurship and design.
Board president Michael Quildon said the 7,800-student district needs more programs that prepare kids for college but also some that help those who opt to start careers directly after high school. For example, as Cedar Hill expands entrepreneurship coursework, officials want offerings that will lead students to a certification in careers that are in high demand, such as those the medical field, information technology or welding.
“Billy will be key in developing that and he has the perfect background to do so,” Quildon said. “He was the obvious choice for us because of his work in improving academic success and in building up communication within communities.”
Much of Snow’s career has focused on working with schools where a significant number of students come from families that struggle financially. For nearly four years in Shreveport, he led turnaround efforts at some of the area’s poorest performing schools, including partnering with the University of Virginia and creating more programs for science, engineering, technology and math – or STEM – and early college high schools.
Before that, Snow received recognition for his work in Texas as a principal, working mostly in low-income neighborhoods. In 2008, while in Corsicana, he was named Texas Elementary Principal of the year and was a finalist for the National Distinguished Principal in 2011.
Snow began his career as a third grade teacher and has worked in Mesquite, Corsicana and Mansfield.
Officials aim to have Snow take over in Cedar Hill by the end of the month, when the budget process starts for the next fiscal year. State law requires school districts to wait 21 days after naming a finalist before officially hiring a candidate.
Snow said he’ll be spending the next few weeks talking to Cedar Hill families about their needs and working to ensure his team at Dallas ISD has a smooth transition.
His departure will be a hit for Dallas, which is in the process of evaluating applications from 26 teams seeking to launch new schools. DISD aims to open one new start-up campus and two redesigns each school year.
He’s the third major administrator from the innovation and transformation office to leave in less than a year. Mike Koprowski, who kicked off much of Dallas’ new effort, left the district last year to focus on an initiative aimed at addressing segregation and equity issues in Dallas. Just a few days later, the department’s director, Mohammed Choudhury, left to launch San Antonio ISD’s new innovation office.