Carla Santorno’s title got a free upgrade Thursday night from the Tacoma School Board.
Board members – who gave Santorno a positive evaluation in July – changed her title from interim superintendent to superintendent.
Santorno’s contract remains substantially unchanged, and her annual pay remains $225,000.
Santorno, a former deputy superintendent for Tacoma Public Schools, was given the cumbersome title of superintendent-elect (interim) for the first six months of 2012. That title was in effect as she and former Superintendent Art Jarvis worked together during his last six months before retirement.
In July of this year, Santorno became interim superintendent for a year, according to her contract.
On May 30, Santorno wrote a letter to board members asking for a two-year contract extension. Board members did not act on that request. Her contract runs through June 2013.
In her letter, Santorno pointed to her work in improving systems and classroom instruction in the 27,000-student district. She also noted that her interim titles had created confusion over her status with the district.
She said in her letter that the uncertainty of her interim title and remaining one-year contract made it harder for her to recruit leaders for key positions.
“I accepted this job and tenuous title because I was confident in my ability to make a long-lasting change,” she wrote. “I understand the rationale behind the title. The public does not.”
Board member Karen Vialle said Thursday that the arrangement with Santorno “has worked out better than anyone could have imagined.”
Vialle added, “I’m pleased you’re here, and you’re now Superintendent Santorno.”
Santorno received mostly praise from the school board in her evaluation. She rated an average of 3.43 on a rating scale of 1 to 4, with 4 the highest score.
The five board members wrote that they were unanimous in their appreciation for Santorno’s leadership and rated her a 4 in this category. They pointed out that she made it a priority to meet with all of the school district’s unions and praised her for initiating “a change of culture.” Last September, trust between the teachers union and the district collapsed during an eight-day teacher strike. Board members said Santorno had worked to improve the district’s relationship with the teachers union, the Tacoma Education Association.
The board also said that although Santorno has impressed them with a “high level of engagement throughout our community,” they want to see more timely information come to them concerning “high-visibility issues.”debbie.cafazzo@ thenewstribune.com 253-597-8635 @DebbieCafazzo