Tacoma Schools Superintendent Carla Santorno earns a one-year contract extension

Any salary changes will echo what teachers get in their upcoming contract

Tacoma News TribuneJune 13, 2014 

The Tacoma School Board has extended the contract of Superintendent Carla Santorno for another year, making her contract good through June 30, 2017.

The contract had been set to expire in 2016. The board gave its unanimous approval of the contract extension at its meeting Thursday.

Her current base salary of $249,900 will remain the same until the teachers union ratifies a new contract with the school district. The district and the Tacoma Education Association are currently in contract negotiations.

Santorno will receive whatever pay adjustment teachers receive in their new contract, and she’ll receive them when teachers do. 

All other contract provisions, including a $700 a month car allowance, remain the same.

Last June, Santorno earned a pay hike of nearly 9 percent over her 2012 salary. Board members justified that raise by pointing out that her 2012 salary had been lower than those of superintendents in most other large school districts in the state.

Before approving Santorno’s contract extension Thursday, board members showered her with positive comments.

Board member Scott Heinze said the superintendent is approachable, willing to listen and “seemingly everywhere” in the district.

Board member Karen Vialle praised Santorno’s understanding of issues that affect a large urban district. She also noted Santorno’s emphasis on meeting kids where they are and addressing their needs.

“We now are a school district about our kids, and not about adults,” Vialle said.

Board member Debbie Winskill thanked Santorno for all the hours she spends on her “amazingly time-intensive job.”

Santorno said support from the school board and the community contribute to her success, along with the work of school employees.

“I wouldn’t be here without the teachers and staff who are doing the hard work in the trenches,” Santorno said.

She earned mostly ratings of 3 or higher on a 4-point scale used by the board for her annual evaluation. Her highest rating of 4 was under the heading of “operations,” which noted the passage of two levies earlier this year and effective management of the district’s building campaign.

Her lowest rating was a 2.9, in the “safety” category. Board members urged Santorno to prioritize student discipline, and develop a new model for capturing student discipline data. The district is forming a task force to review discipline issues. Board members also said they were not satisfied with the current system that surveys parents, students and staff on school climate, and asked for improvements.

Board member Catherine Ushka said that the district had come a long way in a short time under Santorno’s leadership. She has been superintendent since 2012.

“I hope you’ll stay,” Ushka said. “We have a long road ahead.”

Santorno replied: “I’m here. I’m looking forward to the next three years -- and beyond.”


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