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TUSD board OKs hiring 2 assistant supes

Two chief academic officers whose jobs were being eliminated in a reorganization at Tucson Unified School District were hired for next year as assistant superintendents.

Maggie Shafer will be assistant superintendent for elementaries; Jim Fish, assistant superintendent for middle schools.

The newly created jobs, which will pay between $95,000 and $120,000 annually with a possible $10,000 performance bonus, will include more responsibilities than chief academic officers had, said Superintendent Elizabeth Celania-Fagen.

The governing board on Tuesday night voted unanimously for these two appointments, and for three principals:

• Joe, Hermann, acting principal at Banks Elementary, 3200 S. Lead Flower, will become its permanent principal next year.

• Santa Rita High Assistant Principal Frank Armenta will be Cholla High Magnet principal;

• Paul De Weerdt, Pueblo Magnet High assistant principal will become Mansfeld Middle School principal.

In other action the board voted 4-0, with member Adelita Grijalva out of the room, to allow the possibility of a reduction in salaries if Legislative cuts are “substantially” more than the expected worst-case cut of $45 million for 2009-10.

Also, the board majority rejected by a 4-1 vote, a plan by member Bruce Burke to cut the 3.2-person governing board office staff by one full-time employee and one part-time one.

Trimming that office also was a recommendation of auditors the board hire last year.

Burke, who said he wasn’t “making this decision lightly,” said the cuts would bring the board staff in line with comparable staffs in Arizona and across the nation and would save the district $75,000,.

But member Miguel Cuevas said the board should go along with a 12.8 percent cut for $33,000 proposed by the district director of staff services. That cut is being done by decreasing overtime and supplies and discontinuing dues to the National School Boards Association. “I think Mr. Burke is incorrect and missing the bus completely,” Cuevas said. “It’s the employees that make this district.”

But Burke said the board should “set an example” and make the staff cuts plus the reduction in overtime, supplies and dues. “We’d save $100,000.”

Board President Judy Burns said comparison’s can’t be made between TUSD’s board staff and others because TUSD’s takes on more responsibilities. “We’ve already given up one full-timer,” she said. “Our staff archives everything that happens here. No other district does that.”

Clerk Mark Stegeman said the board office also works collaboratively with union groups. He said Burke’s plan “contains merit, but is premature.”

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