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South San ISD Names Fifth Superintendent In Three Years

Joey Palacios
TPR News
South San Board President Helen Madla signs the contract for newly hired superintendent Abelardo Saavedra (center)

The South San Independent School District has a new superintendent after a fierce discussion last night where two board members voted against the measure over salary. Abelardo Saavedra is the fifth person to take charge of the district in three years.

In a 4-2 vote, South San’s Board of Trustees hired former Houston ISD Superintendent Abelardo Saavedra. The opposition to the salary came from board members Rose Marie Martinez and Joseph Savage.

Saavedra’s contract calls for $200,000  per year with allowances for travel and communication at $800 per month. Both Savage and Martinez believe that’s too much money for the small district and wanted to reduce the salary to $150,000 with $50,000 being awarded as a bonus for performance.

“This poor school district cannot afford that amount of money," Martinez said. "In the history of South San the highest we’ve ever paid a superintendent is $155,000."

“I have nothing against him, I think he’s very qualified,” said Savage. “It’s the money and wanting to see performance, because in this district for so long we’ve had superintendent [after] superintendent and we’ve spent millions of dollars and seen almost no performance increase.”

Board President Helen Madla said she believed Saavedra's compensation to be fair. Thirty candidates had submitted applications for the position but none were interviewed. Madla cited the reason as already having the right candidate.

“I’m really happy South San is truly blessed and we’re heading to a right direction,” Madla said. “There’s board members on the bus and if you’re not on the bus, then get off the bus and get off the board.”

Upon being hired, Saavedra said one of the main things needing attention was not the students’s performance but the administration. Saavedra started with the district three months ago as interim superintendent following the termination of a different interim superintendent.

Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules