Opinion

Keck: Scottsdale superintendent’s contract extension raises questions

Posted 4/28/22

On April 26 the SUSD Governing Board unanimously approved extending the Superintendent’s contract by three years, nearly 14 months in advance of the current contract’s expiration. There …

This story requires a subscription for $5.99/month.
Already a subscriber? Log in to continue. Otherwise, click here to subscribe.

To Our Valued Readers –

Visitors to our website will be limited to five stories per month unless they opt to subscribe. The five stories do not include our exclusive content written by our journalists.

For $5.99, less than 20 cents a day, digital subscribers will receive unlimited access to YourValley.net, including exclusive content from our newsroom and access to our Daily Independent e-edition.

Our commitment to balanced, fair reporting and local coverage provides insight and perspective not found anywhere else.

Your financial commitment will help to preserve the kind of honest journalism produced by our reporters and editors. We trust you agree that independent journalism is an essential component of our democracy. Please click here to subscribe.

Sincerely,
Charlene Bisson, Publisher, Independent Newsmedia

Please log in to continue

Log in

Subscribe to our e-newsletter for continued access

Free newsletter subscribers to the Daily Independent can enjoy free access to our AP stories, Capital Media Services, earned media and special contributors on our Opinions with Civility pages. If you aren’t a free newsletter subscriber yet, join now and continue accessing more content. This does not include our exclusive content written by the newsroom. We hope you’ll consider supporting our journalism.

I am anchor
Opinion

Keck: Scottsdale superintendent’s contract extension raises questions

Posted

On April 26 the SUSD Governing Board unanimously approved extending the Superintendent’s contract by three years, nearly 14 months in advance of the current contract’s expiration. There was absolutely no justifiable reason to do this at this time.

This was no surprise to me. I have been saying for months that I fully expected this board to extend his contract before the new board is seated in January 2023. Why? Because Dr. Menzel is a controversial figure among SUSD voters.

He doesn’t have unified support in the community; there are many who feel that he is not the person they want as superintendent.

Extending a contract before a new board is seated is a common strategy when a board is afraid of losing the majority they have in an upcoming election.

Doing so assures that their desires are solidified, and that voters’ voices expressed in the upcoming election have no influence. Taking away the public’s right to be heard in a relatively imminent timeframe disrespects the democratic process so foundational in our country, and to the governance of this district.

In this case, only five months before our election (early ballots out Oct. 6). The same was just done in the Cave Creek school district; interestingly enough said to be represented by the same outside legal counsel that advised the SUSD board.

Most disturbing to me, however, was that the board took action without waiting to receive significant academic results due in just the next two months.

It is incredibly disappointing to me that they would not want the most complete data available to them on the district’s academic performance before making such a critical decision.

Standardized testing, which will tell us how many students are at grade level in English, math, and science, was just completed within the last couple of weeks. Results will be available in June, likely just six-eight weeks from now.

At the November 2021 board meeting there was a push by Dr. Libby Hart-Wells to put some measures of expected academic achievement in Dr. Menzel’s performance pay plan. The board finally settled on requiring “statistically significant growth” in reading, math, and ACT composite scores by June 30, 2022. Now, however, they decide to renew his contract without waiting a mere two months to see if he achieved these academic goals or not.

As I said in my speech to the board, it seems they’re signaling to Dr. Menzel, and to every SUSD employee, “Don’t worry, we won’t pay any attention to what we’ve told you we expect you to do.”

By not waiting for these two significant measures it seems they’re saying “We don’t care about academic achievement as an important component of our superintendent’s job performance. We’re more interested in other things.”

Academics should be the number one factor used to evaluate a school superintendent.

I want to make quite clear that my concerns are not influenced by my personal thoughts regarding Dr. Menzel’s performance. I have not, and will not, discuss my thoughts during this campaign because I don’t believe it’s professional or ethical for any candidate, nor any incumbent board member, to talk publicly about any employee’s personnel matters. My concerns are completely about the process undertaken by this board.

There was absolutely no justifiable reason to extend this contract now, and I am disappointed in the board’s decision to take such action at this time.

Editor’s Note: Andrea Keck is a Scottsdale resident seeking candidacy for the Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board election on Nov. 8.

Comments

1 comment on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

  • xway.mike.norton

    Each time Ms. Keck writes these columns she proves why she is not suited to serve on the Governing Board. Throughout the State (and most of the Nation) Superintendent contracts are either (1) Renewed before the last year of the contract or (2) the Superintendent is released to pursue other employment with another District during their final year of their contract.

    The reason is quite simple. And it is consistently applied. And it works. If that rule was broken by SUSD good luck ever getting another quality Superintendent to apply.

    But Andrea Keck simply doesn't understand because - as she told us - she "knew nothing about SUSD before November 2021".

    The simplest matters of District governance are vastly beyond her skill set.

    Friday, April 29 Report this