Well, as it turns out, Dallas Independent School District superintendent Michael Hinojosa was far more engaged than we all thought. We just received the superintendent's annual evaluation of Eric Anderson, the district's former chief operating officer who has been widely blamed for DISD's epic financial crisis. Long story short: Hinojosa thought Anderson was absolutely terrible at his job.
The entire evaluation is after the jump, and this week's cover story on the super in the paper version of Unfair Park should be posted shortly. But till then, some background: Last spring, district officials told the board that DISD was about $52 million over budget on payroll for teachers. But Anderson specifically told DISD trustees that everything would be just fine. The district now expected to collect more revenue from the state than it had anticipated, while also realizing millions of dollars in savings from its operating budget. That would offset the deficit.
Well, as 375 teachers now know, Anderson and his staff's projections were dead wrong. The savings never materialized, and the district wound up overspending its 2007-2008 budget by more than $50 million. Even worse, the district was poised to blow its current budget by $84 million and had to fire teachers and administrators to stay solvent.
Many of Hinojosa's detractors say that the superintendent should've had Anderson prove that the district could cover a $52 million payroll shortfall. Don't take his word for it. Make him run the numbers in front of you. It's hard to argue with that.
But as Hinojosa's evaluation of Anderson shows, he was paying close attention to how he performed his job responsibilities. This was not a "Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job" moment. Hinojosa watched how Anderson dealt with the budget and the ongoing audit of the district -- and he wasn't impressed.
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"You and your staff did not deliver on multiple significant deadlines regarding the audit and the budget," he wrote. "I had to get involved in many items delegated to you and your staff because the work was not getting done."
None of this absolves Hinojosa. He hired Anderson in the first place -- at the advice of a well-connected Dallas businessman, we might add. And besides, if Hinojosa thought that Anderson was so lousy at his job, shouldn't he have brought in an outside auditor to double check his projections? People's livelihoods literally lay in the balance.