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Tucson school district’s contract updates create uncertainty

(AP Photo/David Goldman)

TUCSON, Ariz. — A Tucson school district is searching for a new superintendent while many officials are leaving and some senior positions are being cut.

The language on 18 directors’ contracts with the Tucson Unified School District, adopted Tuesday, allows the school board to remove them without cause after December, leaving some concerned about the type of work environment the district was creating, the Arizona Daily Star reported.

The contract changes will give the incoming superintendent the option to choose their own leadership team, officials said.

Board members Adelita Grijalva and Kristel Foster opposed the changes. Grijalva fears the lack of protection for employees will deter people from the district and said the changes in district are happening too fast.

“It has to be gradual because otherwise, we’d lose talented people, and that’s what we’ve seen,” she said.

Chief Karla Soto had planned to retire from the school district and returned to the position through an outsourcing firm, but said Interim Superintendent Gabriel Trujillo later informed her it would not be possible. Her last day with the district was Wednesday.

“I wanted to continue working,” Soto said in an interview Wednesday. “Had I known then what I know now, I would have never submitted my retirement.”

Trujillo has told the Arizona Daily Sun that employees separate from the district when they submit for retirement.

“We then have responsibility to look at the budgetary situation and make a determination,” he said.

Many positions will be consolidated after a drop in enrollment and budget reductions, Trujillo said. The district has eliminated the chief human resources officer position and plans to also cut the deputy superintendent position once Karen Kopec’s contract ends Friday.

Soto’s deputy was named executive finance officer Tuesday as the district consolidated two finance administrators’ position into one.

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