News has been trickling out as DISD Superintendent Mike Miles has filled out his leadership team. Thursday, it was Seattle Public Schools' Aurora Lora as assistant superintendent. Friday it was Ft. Worth ISD's Sylvia Reyna as school leadership chief and the fifth and penultimate member of Miles' cabinet. The burning question, given recent history, was Yeah, but how much will they make? To which Miles, fresh off promises of new levels of openness and transparency, didn't have much to say.
Today, as they say, is a different day, because DISD just dropped a lengthy press release (five pages, printed out) giving brief bios of the new hires. Bios, but no salaries. For that you had to open the attached PDF and page through nine pages of the same bios and calculations to the effect that Miles' reorganization has already saved the district $1.2 million. On page 10, you find the salaries:
So why not release the numbers beforehand? DISD spokesman Jon Dahlander patched me through to Miles, who was squeezing in a handful of media interviews this afternoon while he waited at the airport.
He didn't reveal the new hires' salaries when asked, he said, because it would have been premature. "You know how it works," Miles said. "You have to wait for the other side to get the information out. Sometimes things leak prematurely." As for how that squares with his promise of openness: "I think today is a good example of being open and transparent."
The salary stuff out of the way, I asked about the new hires. It's a top-notch team, he said. "We are proud that we have gotten both local talent and national talent," he said, like assistant superintendent Milan Sevak, who is leaving an executive director post at Chicago Public Schools.
The hires were selected through "performance interviews" in which, rather than a typical sit-down Q&A, the applicants are asked to perform a job-related task to see how they respond in real-world situations. Most were done in Dallas while Miles was in town, with a few taking place in Colorado Springs.
I asked whether, given that decisions were being made so quickly, there wasn't a danger of insufficiently vetting a candidate, like when John McCain picked Sarah Palin as his running mate. "That's a strange analogy, but I understand the question anyway," he told me. He assured me that all of the new hires are perfectly competent. Had he wanted to simply put warm bodies in open positions, he could have easily done so. The reason there's still no chief academic officer and eight executive director slots are empty is because he's not rushing the process.
Interviews will continue, but the main thing to focus on right now the budget from which, he pointed out twice during our conversation, he has already trimmed $1.2 million in administrative salaries. And, speaking of the budget, the school board will vote on next year's this week.