How (Not) to Hire an AISD Superintendent

Deadline to choose a finalist is close to run-offs

Vince Torres
Vince Torres (Photo by John Anderson)

How long should the Austin Independent School District wait to hire a new superintendent? With three trustee elections headed to run-offs, new board members may only have a couple of weeks to hire a new CEO.

The current board has already pushed the hiring date from mid-December to mid-January to give time for the Dec. 16 run-offs. Now the timeline has reached a worst-case scenario, as the finalists – presumably two or three for the board to choose from – are scheduled to be announced on Dec. 15 – the day before the run-offs. Then the election results will not be canvassed until either Dec. 24 or Dec. 26 ("Obviously, we're not going to meet on Christmas Day," said Board President Vince Torres) and the new board will not be seated until the first meeting in January, currently scheduled for Jan. 8. On that night, they will not only decide who they will offer the job, but also elect their own officers.

Among trustee candidates there is a growing concern that this timeline, running across an election and the holiday season, makes due diligence nearly impossible. There are already rumblings about pushing the hire back to February, or even as late as April (the original date proposed by search firm Ray & Associates). However, Torres warned against too much tampering with the timeline, arguing that, if the board pushes it back too far, it could lose prospective applicants.

There's actually more interest in adding a name to the list, with popular pressure and trustee candidate interest in considering Interim Superintendent Paul Cruz for the position. Originally, his name was removed from contention because, as interim, he would have an unfair advantage over other candidates. His tenure in the big office has been popular thus far, but Torres noted that a few months as a placeholder are not the same as being the permanent leader. "He can make popular decisions and make a lot of friends, and not have to make any unpopular decisions."

And there's an additional complication. On Oct. 20, San Antonio ISD Superintendent Sylvester Perez announced he'll be retiring, effective April 2015. While SAISD is smaller and has a smaller budget, it has a lot in common with AISD. It's an urban district in Texas with a largely Hispanic student body, and serves a large number of kids from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. That means its board will be recruiting from the same talent pool as Austin. When asked whether that makes life more complex for his own talent search, Torres said, "It certainly does, just like any other business opportunity." However, AISD started its hiring process first, and Torres said he hopes that none of the finalists would withdraw in anticipation of the San Antonio opening.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More AISD Board
AISD Board: Next up for Saldaña’s Vacant Seat
AISD Board: Next up for Saldaña’s Vacant Seat
Appointee imminent, the ballot for next year’s election is already overflowed

Richard Whittaker, April 28, 2017

AISD & ACC: Low Turnout rules
Low Turnout for AISD and ACC
The AISD and ACC boards take shape

Richard Whittaker, Dec. 19, 2014

More Superintendent
AISD Hunts Chief and Trustees
AISD Hunts Chief and Trustees
Superintendent search and board campaigns coincide

Richard Whittaker, Sept. 12, 2014

Naked City
Naked City
News briefs from Austin, the region, and elsewhere

May 2, 2008

More by Richard Whittaker
Other Worlds Austin Boards <I>Battlestar Galactica</I>
Other Worlds Austin Boards Battlestar Galactica
Festival honors legendary TV director Alan Levi

Aug. 16, 2018

4am With a Head Full of Whiskey
4am With a Head Full of Whiskey
Ethan Hawke and Ben Dickey's late-night daydream

Aug. 17, 2018

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

AISD Board, Superintendent, November 2014 Election, December 2014 Run-off, Vince Torres

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2018

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle