Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

TUSD cutting 7 top-level positions, adding 4 assistant superintendents

Citizen Staff Writer



A reorganization in Tucson Unified School District will eliminate the jobs next year of its six chief academic officers and curriculum director, some of the highest ranking employees under Superintendent Elizabeth Celania-Fagen.

However, two will retire and four assistant superintendent jobs are being created that the others can apply for.

The board will vote Tuesday on the nonrenewal of contracts for chief academic officers Dea Salter, Albert Siqueiros and Maggie Shafer, who oversee elementary schools; James Fish and Steve Holmes, who oversee middle schools; Ross Sheard, who oversees high schools; and curriculum director Lisa Long.

Salter has been with TUSD for 44 years, Sheard for 37. Both will retire this year.

The board will meet at 6:30 p.m. at the district board room, 1010 E. 10th St.

Fagen said she is asking for the non-renewal of contracts “because it is the fairest thing, to let them know as soon as possible so they can make arrangements for them and their families.”

She said the chief academic officers will be allowed to apply for the new jobs.

“I told them to look at the new qualifications, and if they are qualified and interested and understand the level of work I’m asking for . . . then absolutely, go for it.”

In the reorganization, one assistant superintendent each will oversee high schools, middle schools and elementary schools. The fourth will be responsible for local, state and federal programs and outreach.

Fagen said the elimination of chief academic officers, in part, “was in response to what our administrators want. I meet with principals monthly and they really want one person in charge for all elementaries, one for all middle schools and one for all high schools. That way there will be consistency and the principals will deal with fewer people.

“I’d rather make cuts such as these before reducing the experience of the day to day of the students,” Fagen said.

Long, who returned to work Monday, had been on paid administrative leave since the end of January, after a state attorney general’s investigation determined she violated conflict-of-interest laws in the district’s bidding process. Two other district administrators were cited in the probe and one resigned.

When she returned, Long, who makes $86,000 a year, was reassigned to work on the March 28 Festival of Schools, a schools showcase.

Fagen said she told Long before the results of the investigation were in that she was eliminating her job and including curriculum responsibilities in the duties of the new assistant superintendents. Fagen has said since she arrived at TUSD in July that she would reorganize “but I strongly believe when you come into an organization you need to get to know the people first before you do anything.

With estimates of $20 million to $60 million in state funding cuts to TUSD for next fiscal year, Fagen said reorganizing was critical.

“These actions on Tuesday are the beginning pieces,” Fagen said.

Board President Judy Burns said that with “horrendous cuts” looming, “we’re going to have to trim everything. But I’m pleased (Fagen) is cutting at the top first.”

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