Superintendent of Tacoma schools lands 1-year extension

Santorno will receive same raise as Tacoma’s teachers once they agree to their own contract with school district

Staff writerJune 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. The Tacoma Education Association and the school district are currently in contract negotiations.

Santorno will receive the same percentage pay adjustment that teachers get in their new contract, and she’ll receive it when they do.

All other contract provisions, including a $700 monthly 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.

Scott Heinze said she’s approachable, willing to listen and “seemingly everywhere” in the district.

Karen Vialle praised Santorno’s understanding of issues in a large urban district. She also noted the superintendent’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.

Debbie Winskill thanked Santorno for 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 data in that area. The district is forming a task force to review the issue.

Board members also said they were unsatisfied with the current way of surveying parents, students and staff on their feelings about schools, and asked for improvements.

Board member Catherine Ushka said the district has come a long way in a short time under Santorno’s leadership. She’s been superintendent since 2012 after coming to Tacoma as deputy superintendent in 2009.

“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.”

Debbie Cafazzo: 253-597-8635

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