Isquierdo given high marks but no contract extension

After 4-hour closed session, Sunnyside board says superintendent met 93 percent of goals
2013-06-11T00:00:00Z 2013-06-11T00:17:55Z Isquierdo given high marks but no contract extensionJamar Younger Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
June 11, 2013 12:00 am  • 

After a marathon four-hour closed-door session Monday night, the Sunnyside governing board emerged to give controversial Superintendent Manuel Isquierdo a high approval rating, but no new contract extension.

The board, on a 4-1 vote, agreed Isquierdo met 93 percent of his performance goals, meaning that he will receive that percentage of his $7,500 performance pay. Board Member Buck Crouch voted no.

The board will now move forward with discussions at some to-be-determined date regarding an extension of Isquierdo's contract, which expires in June 2014.

"I would thank everybody who put so much work into our year," Isquierdo said. "It indicates the progress we're making."

Isquierdo said he's looking for a three-year extension, which would take his contract to 2016.

He said he expects to meet with board members this week and hopes to have the extension issue resolved before June 30, which is the extension deadline set in his existing contract.

The superintendent said he is willing to subtract the $75,000 from his salary that he used to market the district's Digital Advantage program to other school districts. The Digital Advantage program gives laptops to students in various grades.

His total salary, including compensation, including Digital Advantage, is about $313,000.

Sunnyside Unified is Tucson's second-largest school district.

The board discussed six goals Isquierdo set for himself, including improving graduation rates, implementing a digital curriculum at middle schools, and designing a high school where students can take online classes.

Isquierdo outlined the goals before heading into the executive session, where the group discussed whether the superintendent had met the objectives.

Board members Crouch and Daniel Hernandez Jr. voted against going into executive session.

Hernandez cited a lack of transparency regarding Isquierdo's contract and a possible extension, saying the board hadn't seen any legal documents or consulted the district lawyer about an extension.

Isquierdo told Hernandez the governing board would see legal documents during the executive session.

More than 20 people showed up for the meeting, which didn't include a call-to-the-audience.

Isquierdo has faced criticism from employees, parents and community members after a litany of personal and legal problems that have plagued him since he took over the south-side school district in 2007.

The superintendent's problems include filing for bankruptcy last month before he was scheduled to lose his Oro Valley home to foreclosure, owing more than $150,000 in back taxes, and having his driver's license suspended because of unpaid fines and failure to appear in court.

Isquierdo also has faced criticism for making improper charges on his district credit card and for the district's use of athletes to pass out literature in support of a bond election in past years.

In addition, current and former employees have accused the district of pressuring teachers to change grades so students could graduate.

Isquierdo's supporters, however, have pointed to the district's increased graduation rates and student access to laptops since he took the helm.

On StarNet: Find education- related resources and special reports at azstarnet.com/education

Contact reporter Jamar Younger at jyounger@azstarnet.com or 573-4242. On Twitter: @JamarYounger

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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