Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Board Hopefuls Divided on Review
By Hailey Heinz
Journal Staff Writer
Several school board hopefuls said Tuesday the current Albuquerque Public Schools board should not evaluate Superintendent Winston Brooks and vote on an extension of his contract before the new board is sworn in in March.
But at least one candidate said the timing makes sense, and another advocated a compromise.
"I think it's fair to the current board and to Brooks to evaluate him without this new board group, given that it's just a one-year extension," said Peter Sanchez, candidate for the West Side District 2 seat. "I think it would be unfair to the superintendent to be actually evaluated by people who haven't observed him."
Three spots on the seven-member board are up for election Feb. 1. Two incumbents, Martin Esquivel and Dolores Griego, are running for re-election. At least one new member will join to the board, since West Side incumbent Robert Lucero is not running.
Brooks' contract stipulates that the board take up his evaluation each January. This means that every other year, the evaluation takes place right before a school board election. Brooks has said the timing is a function of when he was hired, and allows him to make mid-year corrections when the board gives him feedback.
Brooks will ask the board to extend his contract by one year, maintaining a three-year contract on a rolling basis. He will not ask for a raise in his $256,000 base pay.
"What a disrespect to the community for the lame duck APS school board to even consider extending Winston Brooks' contract before the three newly elected board members take office," said John Herrera, also running in District 2. "This constitutes an abuse of power."
Agreeing that the vote should be left to the new board were District 1 candidate Clara Peña, District 2 candidate Katherine Korte and District 4 candidates Cheryl Harris and Charles MacQuigg.
Board President Martin Esquivel, who is running to keep his District 4 Uptown and university-area seat, said the current system is the fairest way to evaluate Brooks.
"It's reasonable to evaluate an employee off of previously articulated expectations and first-hand knowledge. That is why it makes sense to have the board conduct this evaluation," Esquivel said in an e-mail. "Board evaluations by folks coming off of an election, without a track record or knowledge of the expectations, just lends itself to politics and supervision by hearsay."
Analee Maestas, who is running for the South Valley seat currently held by Griego, took a compromise approach, saying the current board should evaluate Brooks and make a recommendation to the incoming board. But she said the vote should be left to incoming board members.
"The current members are the ones who set the goals for the year, they know what those goals are, we don't. They know how they were going to measure them, I don't," Maestas said. "I think it's absolutely important for them to do the evaluation for him. What I don't think is appropriate is that they would extend his contract."