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New APS boss bringing top execs

Copyright © 2015 Albuquerque Journal

Luis Valentino isn’t coming to Albuquerque Public Schools alone.

The district’s newly hired superintendent, currently superintendent of curriculum and chief academic officer for the San Francisco Unified School District, will bring in two top administrators when he takes the reins in June.

VALENTINO: First day on the job is June 22

VALENTINO: First day on the job is June 22

Valentino said one will become his chief of staff at an annual salary of $170,000 and the other will be paid $160,000 a year to focus on instruction and technology.

“The truth is the positions only came to mind after hearing what the expectation was through the (job) interview process,” Valentino told the Journal on Tuesday.

Valentino begins his new duties June 22 and is visiting Albuquerque this week.

The new administrators won’t be replacing anyone, Valentino said.

Former Superintendent Winston Brooks’ chief of staff, Joseph Escobedo, already had been assigned to another position within APS. He had a $92,586 salary as of October, according to the district’s website. Shelly Green, APS’ chief academic officer, had a salary of $142,188 at that time.

Who the new superintendent brings to work for him is his prerogative, APS board member David Peercy said Tuesday.

“He’ll have some things he’ll want to do,” he said. “I think that as long as he works it within the budget, it’s his choice.”

Valentino’s chief of staff will be Toni Cordova, a chief strategy officer for the Santa Clara County Office of Education, he said.

Valentino met Cordova last month while in Albuquerque interviewing for the job, he said. Cordova, in addition to her regular job, was working as part of a recruitment team for Ray and Associates, the firm APS hired to find superintendent candidates.

Valentino said he found Cordova to be very helpful during the job interview, and he liked that she had previously worked as a chief of staff seven times.

He also said Cordova had another job lined up in Clark County, Nev., but that he persuaded her to join him.

The other staffer Valentino said he will bring to APS is Jason Martinez, who is currently the vice president of education solutions at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, a publishing house that also provides educational content.

Martinez was previously an administrator in Denver Public Schools, where he worked on instruction and technology, Valentino said.

Valentino said he met Martinez through a professional organization, the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents, and talked with him frequently about educational issues.

“He will help me to better understand the instructional program that I am going to lead and how to build them,” Valentino said of Martinez.

Valentino also said Tuesday that he will take office a little earlier than anticipated.

Originally, he was expected to start with the district July 1. Now he will start June 22.

Arriving in the district a little earlier will help him get a jump start on the new school year, he said.

In addition to meeting with APS staff this week, Valentino also will be at a luncheon sponsored by the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce and other business organizations Thursday.

Valentino will be paid a $240,000 annual base salary, according to his three-year contract.

That is $10,000 less in base salary than Brooks was paid.

Brooks agreed to resign in August after the school board bought out the remaining two years of his contract for $350,000.

School board members have not said why they wanted to replace Brooks. Last summer, then board President Analee Maestas hired an attorney to investigate an undisclosed “serious personnel issue” involving Brooks, and the board agreed to keep it in a secret personnel file.

Because the board did not make public information about how it decided to buy out Brooks, the Journal and KOB-TV filed an Inspection of Public Records Act request, which APS denied.

The Journal and KOB filed a lawsuit in January against the APS board over its refusal to make public several records, including an attorney’s report that led to Brooks’ resignation.