Harris County Department of Education, a political subdivision of the State of Texas, is located in Houston, Texas. The Harris County Board of School Trustees (HCDE Board), elected by voters of Harris County has governance responsibilities over all activities and operations of HCDE. The Board consists of seven members who serve overlapping six-year terms. HCDE is a primary governmental unit and is not included in any other governmental “reporting entity.” There is a blended component unit, the Harris County Department of Education Public Facilities Corporation (“PFC”), included within the reporting entity.
While the name “Harris County Department of Education” may cause some confusion from time to time for the public, it is important for the reader of these financial statements to know and understand that HCDE is an entity separate and distinct from county agencies of Harris County. HCDE was established by the Texas State Legislature in 1889 to provide educational services to public schools in Harris County. Originally, every county in Texas had its own department of education. Harris County Department of Education was the first school district in Harris County. While virtually all other departments of education in Texas became obsolete as independent school districts incorporated and assumed the responsibilities of public education, HCDE’s service strategy evolved rapidly to respond to educational and community needs. Thus HCDE is one of only two remaining entities in the State.
HCDE's primary service area geographically covers 1,788 square miles within Harris County, in the upper Texas Gulf Coast region. Harris County’s population base includes a wide variety of racial, ethnic, and socio-economic groups that gives the area a rich diversity and cosmopolitan feel. HCDE offers services to 26 rural, suburban, and urban school districts entirely or partially within its primary service area of Harris County, to school districts and governmental agencies in surrounding counties, as well as school, education service centers, and other governmental agencies statewide. Responding to and serving the needs of learners of all ages, socio-economic status, ethnic backgrounds, educational or development delays and at-risk behaviors requires HCDE to be an institution of great flexibility as evidenced by the activities described below. Affordable and highly flexible programs and products are developed with clients in mind. Client population examples are: