ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Brad Winter, who retired as APS chief operating officer three months ago, was chosen by the school board Friday to run the district until a permanent replacement is named for ousted superintendent Winston Brooks – a process that could take up to a year.
Although the board left the door open for the interim superintendent to apply for the permanent job, Winter said he’s not interested.
“I have absolutely zero thought” of becoming the permanent superintendent, Winter said.
He said his focus will be on making sure the schools run smoothly and that employees feel like their workplace is back to normal.
“I think I’m the right one to right the ship and create some stability,” Winter said.
Winter said he also will help the board get public comment on what they want in a new superintendent by meeting with business groups, community organizations and neighborhood associations.
The board voted 6-0 to name Winter. Lorenzo Garcia was not at the meeting.
Winter will assume his duties immediately, according to a district press release. His salary will be $200,000, although the board must still finalize the terms of his contract at its next meeting, APS spokeswoman Johanna King said.
“Dr. Winter has been a part of Albuquerque Public Schools for more than two decades and knows this district as well as anyone,” Board President Analee Maestas said in a news release. “The board wanted to find someone who could smoothly guide the district through this time of transition, and we’re confident Dr. Winter is the best person for the job.”
Winter worked as a teacher, principal and administrator at APS for 22 years. He is also an Albuquerque City Council member.
“I served under several superintendents and lived through many administrative changes during my two decades with APS, and I understand how important it is to keep things running smoothly during times like these,” Winter said in an APS news release.
The board chose Winter over three other candidates who were interviewed: Veronica Garcia, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children and state education secretary from 2003 to 2010; Diego Gallegos, owner of AMADO Consulting and APS assistant superintendent from 2008 to 2012 and David Atencio, Jemez Valley superintendent from 2008 to 2013 and current administrator for the Laguna Department of Education.
“All four of the candidates we interviewed for this job were exemplary, making this a difficult decision,” Maestas said.
Board members reviewed 10 applicants’ résumés Thursday night and interviewed the four candidates Friday.
Winter said among his proudest accomplishments at APS was helping to oversee the West Side Community Stadium that opened last fall and construction of 11 schools to relieve crowding on Albuquerque’s West Side.
Brooks resigned last week after the board approved a $350,000 buyout of his contract. He was earning a $250,000 base salary.
The reason for Brooks’ departure is still a mystery. Neither he nor the board have said what led to his resignation.
The settlement agreement says an investigative report by private attorney Agnes Padilla about a “serious personnel issue” involving Brooks will be placed in a secret file, separate from Brooks’ regular personnel file. APS has denied requests by the Journal and the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government to release the report.
The settlement agreement still must be authorized by the state Public Education Department and the 2nd Judicial District.