The Albuquerque Public Schools board on Tuesday began evaluating Superintendent Winston Brooks and considering whether to extend his contract.
The process happens each January, which means in odd years it happens in the midst of a school board election. This has raised eyebrows in the past, by those who think major decisions should be left to incoming board members.
But current board members contend Brooks should be evaluated by a board that is familiar with his performance. Moreover, Brooks’ contract stipulates that his evaluation must be completed by Jan. 31.
Brooks said Tuesday he will not ask for an increase to his $256,000 base pay. Brooks’ contract does say if teachers get a raise, he gets an increase of the same percentage.
Brooks said he hopes the board extends his contract, and he would like to stay in Albuquerque long term.
“I really think we have some great things going on, and we have a long way to go,” Brooks said. “I would really like to complete my career here, to be honest, and try to make as many improvements as I can for as long as I’m here.”
The school board met in closed session Tuesday to begin the evaluation process, which typically takes several weeks. The board initially will meet without Brooks and will later have a closed session with him to give him feedback.
The board will then vote on whether to extend his contract by one year, maintaining a three-year contract on a rolling basis.
Board member Martin Esquivel, who advocated two years ago for the vote to be delayed until the new board was seated in March, said he feels differently now. Esquivel was re-elected two years ago and is not currently running.
Esquivel said he urged the board to consider waiting two years ago because he was hearing from constituents who felt a new board should do the evaluation.
Esquivel said he now feels differently, in part because voters will select up to four new board members this year, as opposed to three in 2011. Esquivel said the majority of the board could potentially be new and unfamiliar with Brooks’ performance.
“At that time, we had three new positions, so I kind of felt like even if you have three new people come in and say, ‘We want to run out Winston,’ you still have a majority familiar with his work product,” Esquivel said. “Now, you could have potentially four new board members who could come in and say, ‘Yep, we don’t want him anymore.’ I’m not sure that would be fair.”
Board member Kathy Korte also has changed course on the issue. When she was running for office two years ago, Korte said the board should wait, to respect the wishes of voters.
On Tuesday, Korte said she no longer feels that way.
“We all, as candidates, want to make changes immediately and we want to see our ideas implemented immediately. And when you become a school board member, you realize how little you really know and how much you learn just in the first year of office,” Korte said. “It wouldn’t be a fair evaluation to rank the superintendent based on hearsay and based on what you see on TV and what you read in the newspaper, because you’re not getting a 360-degree view at all.”
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal