Thursday, July 19, 2007
Winter Looking at Top APS Job
By Andrea Schoellkopf
Copyright © 2007 Albuquerque Journal; Journal Staff Writer
The often testy relationship between Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chávez and City Councilor Brad Winter could take a new twist as Albuquerque Public Schools looks for a new superintendent.
Winter, facilities director for the state's largest school district, has expressed interest in becoming superintendent when Elizabeth Everitt ends her contract in 2008.
"As an educator, I am interested in the job," said Winter, one of several names to emerge with Everitt's retirement announcement earlier this month. "It's probably a little premature ... the board doesn't even have any of its criteria developed yet. I might not even fit into the criteria they're looking for."
Winter and Chávez were in a bitterly contested race for the mayor's post in 2004. Winter is part of a group of councilors that has clashed with Chávez over various issues.
Winter is a Republican and Chávez a Democrat, although city elections are officially nonpartisan.
Chávez, who pushed unsuccessfully to get state laws changed this year to allow him to appoint some school board members, wants to be part of the superintendent selection process regardless of whom applies, said Paul Broome, the mayor's education adviser.
Broome said Chávez has been interested in being more involved in the school district for some time and wants to be involved in APS policy decisions.
"Even though Brad Winter and the mayor have been political rivals in the past, there's no question in my mind, the mayor or anybody else would be fair," he said. "We're not interested in playing politics with something that's important as this."
Other names that have been mentioned in education and APS circles: Manzano High Principal Tim Whalen, APS Assistant Superintendent Diego Gallegos, APS technology director Tom Ryan and APS Deputy Superintendent Tom Savage.
Outside the district, the names include former state Superintendents Alan Morgan and Michael Davis, Rio Rancho Superintendent V. Sue Cleveland, state Secretary of Education Veronica Garcia, Los Lunas Superintendent Walter Gibson and Las Cruces Superintendent Stan Rounds.
Gallegos, who had applied for the job in 1998 when he was working with the state Department of Education, said he's been "preparing" for the APS superintendency for a long time.
"I've had this interest since I became an administrator in 1979," Gallegos said.
Jerald Snider, principal at North Valley Academy charter school and former Jemez Valley High School principal, said he's interested. "I think that this district really needs a strong leader, not that Beth's not, but I think it needs fresh blood."
Morgan said he's a vice president for government relations at a London-based publishing company and is no longer involved in the public sector: "Thanks, but no thanks."
Garcia, who is a former APS administrator and Santa Fe superintendent who now makes $165,000 overseeing the state's public schools said, "I'm really focused on moving New Mexico's reform agenda forward."
Rounds, a longtime New Mexico superintendent who was hired this spring in Las Cruces: "I'm tickled to death with my job here in Las Cruces. ... It's best to reserve judgment until we get a little further down the line."
Savage: "I have not given it any consideration at this point. When the application process starts, that will be the time to look at what needs to be done."
Ryan: "I think it's premature at this point, I need to see what the board wants. I don't need to be superintendent for a job I don't want," he said, adding he first wants to know what direction the board wants to take.
Others could not be reached.
President Paula Maes said the APS board will begin discussing a search the first week of August.
The board has a year to replace Everitt, who announced her decision in the wake of controversies involving the school police force, principal reassignments and a grade change.
The district also has been under fire for its graduation rate, test scores and achievement gap.
Maes said the board is looking at recent presidential searches conducted by the University of New Mexico and Central New Mexico Community College, and will ask for help from the Council of the Great City Schools.
It will seek bids to determine costs of doing a national search, she said.
Maes suggested that committees made up of community members including chambers of commerce, delegates from each board district and perhaps the mayor's office could have a role in winnowing applicants to a short list for board consideration.
According to a 2006 report by the Council of the Great City Schools, which represents the 65 largest of 17,000 school districts in the country, the average tenure of superintendents was 3.1 years.
In 2006, the superintendent salaries in those 65 districts averaged $207,547 compared to a national average of all districts $116,244 in 2005. The average salary was $228,000 for a superintendent in a district between 50,000 and 100,000 students.
In New Mexico, the average superintendent's salary last year was $98,026, with Everitt's pay at $193,000, the highest of 89 districts.
Annual bonuses or pay-for-performance provisions something former Superintendent Brad Allison had negotiated in his contract ranged from $5,000 to $68,000. Some 34 percent of superintendents had financial bonuses.
"In 2006, most superintendents (in large city schools) earned more than $200,000, with half of those superintendents earning more than $250,000," the report said.