I was on the phone with a Dallas Independent School Board trustee just seconds ago -- a trustee, mind you, who had not heard there werereports
that DISD Superintendent Michael Hinjosa's outta here, possibly as early as tomorrow, to take the Las Vegas gig -- when the following arrived from Ross Avenue, a statement from the man himself. Says Hinjosa:
"I have been contacted by the firm conducting the search for a new superintendent of Clark County Schools, Nevada, the fifth largest school district in the country that serves more than 300,000 students in Las Vegas and the surrounding area. At this point, the board there has not announced its list of finalists so it would be inappropriate for me to comment further.
I am very proud of the accomplishments our staff and students have achieved here in Dallas over the course of the last five years, including 66 exemplary and 59 recognized schools, more high school graduates in 2010 than in any year since the mid-1980s and in passing a bond issue that will vastly improve our schools during the next few years. It remains a privilege to continue to serve this board of trustees, our committed staff, parents, students and stakeholders as superintendent of schools."
Earlier in the day I called Clark County School District spokeswoman Cynthia Sell to see if she could shed any light on a report last week -- which, clearly, everyone in Dallas media missed -- that said Hinojosa's one of three finalists for the job based upon the recommendation of school board president Terri Janison and school board trustee Larry Mason. The Clark County school board will reveal the names of the finalists tomorrow afternoon.
Update: On the other side, trustee Edwin Flores says if Hinojosa leaves, it's the board's own fault -- in part, because it refused to extend his contract when given the opportunity.
"We can't confirm anything," says Sell. "Literally, the trustees aren't taking interview requests because it hasn't been presented to the board. Nothing discussed about this has even mentioned names."
She then said we should speak with the consulting firm handling the search, McPherson & Jacobson out of Omaha, Nebraska. The woman who answered the phone there said Dr. Thomas Jacobson, head of the operation, is out of town and unable to take our call at present.
A DISD trustee to whom I spoke this afternoon said, yup, there have been "rumors" that Hinojosa was up for the Vegas gig, but nothing confirmed. I've got calls into other trustees as well. Yeah, I'm looking at you, Edwin.
Update: Trustee Edwin Flores laughs when asked about DBJ's story that says Hinojosa's leaving as soon as tomorrow. That said, he says the super's been pursued by "all sorts of people" in recent years and that, yes, he's heard Las Vegas was on the radar.
"He's a hot commodity," Flores tells Unfair Park. "Outside of Dallas he's a rock star. Here? Who knows. You read the blogs and you think everything's falling apart. But the data I've seen, he's moved the needle on student achievement like no one in Dallas before him. Miami-Dade's looking for a superintendent as well, and I wouldn't be surprised if he's at the top of the list there. There are rock-star jobs in the school business, the biggest being LA Unified, and then Chicago and New York and Boston and Clark County and Seattle and Dallas and Houston. And these folks who make great things happen, of course they're on the top of the list.
"Is he considering it? It's hard to hold good people down. I've said that about a lot of good administrators. We're a graduate school for superintendents. Six administrators have left here since I got on the board to become superintendents elsewhere."
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I asked: What could and should the board do to keep Hinojosa, if he does indeed move to the top of Clark County's list?
"We haven't extended his contract in two years," he says. "This is this board's doing. If we don't realize what we have it's our own fault. I'm in favor of extending his contract and have been. He did a darn good job getting us out of our meltdown [in 2008]. Hired the right guy, Larry Throm, and finances were turned around, and academic turnaround continues."
So, he'd extend Hinojosa's contract. How about a raise?
"I'd be in favor of all of the above," Flores says. "Now, whether it's too little too late I can't tell you. It's hard to keep good people. We lost a principal at W.T. White who became head of high schools in Austin. That's a pretty big promotion. We lose good people all the time."