Miami-Dade schools to discuss superintendent contract after changes to Florida program
Miami Herald | By Sommer Brugal | June 15, 2023
The Miami-Dade County School Board on Wednesday is expected to consider a proposal to extend the superintendent’s contract through June 2027 — three years after Jose Dotres’ current agreement is set to expire.
The move, if approved by the board, would require Dotres to extend his membership in the state’s Deferred Retirement Option Program, which state lawmakers recently amended to allow for a participation period of 96 months instead of 60. Dotres’ contract was set to expire in February 2024, although the board can extend it through the end of the 2023-24 school year, in accordance with his participation in the program.
The opportunity to extend Dotres’ contract would offer the district “stability” as it continues to handle the “many challenges” it faces, Chairwoman Mari Tere Rojas said during the board’s committee meetings Wednesday. Rojas, who proposed the item, said Dotres “knows the culture of [the district]. He knows this community.”
Other board members, however, argued that while a sense of stability and continuity was needed, more time was needed to understand the process before extending his contract another 36 months.
Board member Luisa Santos, for one, asserted that the board had yet to finalize a procedure for assessing and evaluating the superintendent — a process she said should be completed before moving on to discussions about extending Dotres’ contract.
Vice Chair Danny Espino echoed Santos’ sentiments. As one of the board’s new members, Espino said he hasn’t had the opportunity to work with Dotres as long as others, though he did praise the interactions they’d had so far. Still, he said, he “was looking forward to that evaluation process and having that be a launch-off point for this conversation, which is absolutely needed.”
Dotres told board members Wednesday he submitted a report of what he referred to as his “achievements” to them last month, as required by his current contract. For the upcoming school year, however, he acknowledged there is a new process, set of standards and timeline.
In an email statement to the Miami Herald, Dotres commented on the new legislation and possible board approval: “I have the opportunity to remain longer in the district where I was a student and have spent the majority of my professional career. I believe this would provide added stability to sustain the high performance of the third largest district in the nation, Miami-Dade County Public Schools.”
Dotres’ first day as superintendent was Feb. 14, 2022. The board appointed Dotres in January 2022 to succeed former Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, who left the district after more than a dozen years to head the Los Angeles Unified School District. Before becoming superintendent, Dotres served in various roles within the district.
Nevertheless, Alonso said the situation isn’t a time-pressing issue, as the current contract can be extended through June 2024. But with a new budget cycle underway, he suggested more time should be given to determine an evaluation process and discuss a possible extension.
“I have no issues or concerns with the superintendents’ performance up until now, and I don’t have an issue with extending” the contract, Alonso said. “I just think we need some time to go through this.”
SUPERINTENDENT VACANCIES IN FLORIDA
The proposal comes as districts across Florida are addressing superintendent vacancies and searches — a fact Rojas touched on when introducing her proposal.
In Broward County, the School Board on Thursday appointed Peter Licata, the regional superintendent for Palm Beach County Schools, after it ousted Vickie Cartwright in February. In Hillsborough County, Superintendent Addison Davis announced on Thursday he was resigning from his position, effective July 14, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
In Sarasota County, the school board on Wednesday appointed Terrence Connor, the deputy superintendent and chief academic officer of Hillsborough County Public Schools, as the new superintendent, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
“We’ve seen the ebbs and flows around the state [and] I think the stability of this organization is critically important,” said Miami-Dade board member Steve Gallon III. “It’s difficult to get the right person [and] Dotres is the right person.” Of the 67 districts, 29 superintendents are appointed by the board.
The proposal is expected to be discussed at the board’s regular monthly meeting Wednesday, though the specifics could be amended prior to the meeting.