Interim Superintendent Edward Brand held a press conference on Wednesday afternoon at offices to announce the district’s plan of action in the near future to try and solve problems that brought him back to the district in the first place.
Brand started his career as a math and science teacher at Southwest High School in the 1970s and was the district’s superintendent from 1995 to 2005. Early Tuesday morning night at the same school, the school board voted unanimously to remove Superintendent Jesus Gandara . In one alleged instance, Gandara spent district money at a Hooters.
Later that day the board named Brand the district’s interim superintendent, and he will serve for the next year or until a replacement can be identified.
In an effort to ensure this doesn’t happen again, he said, within the next 90 days the district will identify concerns and list them as critical, important or necessary.
“The critical ones we’re going to address right away, the important ones we’re going to address within the next 90 days and the necessary ones we’re going to have a long-term plan for,” he said.
“We’ve got a few things that we’ve obviously got sideways. Let’s fix em and make sure we don’t get fooled again.”
A workshop will be held for Brand and the board’s members to come to consensus and prioritize issues important to the district. Then an education summit will be held where the public will be invited to review and offer opinions on the board’s conclusions after the district determines what went wrong and what should be done differently in the future.
“We don't claim to have all the ideas. We claim that we’re just gonna tell you what we’re doing about it, seek your input and constantly refine and improve,” Brand said.
On the list of issues labeled critical is filling principal positions for some schools before students return to class on July 20. Brand must also find space in the distrct’s budget to pay his salary and Gandara’s severance package, which costs more than $400,000.
“We may have to make cuts for instance to administrative positions throughout the district. We may have to look at how we can increase revenues through our grants and communications division,” he said, talking about the district’s general financial state.
“If you keep cutting, eventually you’re going to lose programs that help kids. So our job is to not only protect for as long as we can but then once we have to determine what programs may get cut, make sure it’s aligned with our mission and vision, which is about student achievement.
Brand called making the process open and transparent key to its success.
“If I’ve learned anything it’s that the more honest and open you are about a situation, the better off you’ll be in the long haul,” he said.
“My experience in public education is when you mark something confidential, it’s the kiss of death and it gets out even faster than when you try and hide it, so less is more. We’re not going to hide anything.”