Irving, Texas. July 14, 2012 –
The letter to the editor below was written in response to an article that appeared in the Dallas Morning News on July 3. The School District submitted a copy to Irving Weekly.
Dear Editor [at The Dallas Morning News]:
Your recent headline on Irving ISD, “Superintendent's Contract Terms Divide Board,” has prompted me to take definitive action to ensure complete transparency for the Board of Trustees. We must never give the public the impression we are doing anything in secret. Therefore, as Board President, I will ask all board members and staff to make sure all supporting documents for agenda items are on the web so the public has an opportunity to see them ahead of our meetings. We will continue to post all items on the web after the vote. We will be as transparent as possible for all topics brought before the board.
Regrettably, due to a full agenda, the discussion of the superintendent's contract amendment recently occurred late at night. This is exactly how we’ve handled all other personnel items in the past. As advised by the Legal Services Division of the Texas Association of School Boards, our attorney, the Texas Government Code and Attorney General rulings, we always discuss personnel matters in executive session. The superintendent was given a comparable raise (1.333%) as other employees and his salary is lower than the middle range of other superintendents in our area.
We extended the number of days of notice before non-renewal from 60 to 120 days because it will take the district more than four months to find a replacement and this reduces the time there's a vacancy. This also aligns with his evaluation time frame. It's not the least bit "unusual," as you described it, and it’s in the best interest of the district.
While we may have valid differences of opinion among board members, it is my hope that we can extend that healthy debate to matters that are far more important to our students. Over the past two ears, we have continued to show academic gains, improved student attendance, lowered the dropout rate, launched new academic programs and balanced the budget without tax increases while sustaining major cuts from the state. We have enormous challenges ahead as we attempt to continue academic progress, improve test scores on the new more rigorous state assessment, reduce discipline problems and prepare students for college and careers. We need support from community leaders, parents and taxpayers to make the changes that are necessary. In fact, we can't do it without them. If we erode that support through any doubt of transparency, we are not successful as a Board; therefore, I will work to ensure there's never any question about our intention to operate in public.
Ronda Huffstetler, President
Irving ISD Board of Trustees
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