TUSD announces single finalist for superintendent
After winnowing a list of applicants from 67 to 21, to 10 and then to four who were interviewed in recent days, the TUSD Governing Board has named a single candidate for the soon-to-be-vacant superintendent's chair. H.T. Sanchez, interim superintendent of a Texas school district, is the sole person under consideration to lead Tucson's largest district.
Sanchez was tapped as the last man standing Monday night as the Board split 3-2 in narrowing down the list of candidates. He is scheduled to appear at a public forum Wednesday night at Catalina Magnet High School.
Board members Adelita Grijalva, Cam Juarez and Kristel Foster voted in favor of the move, while Mark Stegeman and Michael Hicks opposed it.
After the vote, Stegeman expressed concerns about the lack of public involvement in the search process.
"The public has seen nothing so far about these applicants," he said. "At this point, we should find ourselves with more than one name."
Stegeman called his vote "not pro or con about the candidate .... the Board by itself should not be taking it down to one person without the public's input."
Calls to other Board members were not returned Monday night. Sanchez did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Heliodoro Torres "H.T." Sanchez has been the interim superintendent of the 28,000-student Ector County Independent School District since March 26. He was elevated from a position of chief of staff when the previous superintendent announced his retirement. Sanchez had served in that position for two years.
Sanchez, 38, has no other CEO-level experience. Working in education for 15 years, he has served as a district-level bilingual services director, executive director of instructional support services, and as an assistant superintendent for accountability and special populations. Previously, he was a middle school and high school principal, including two years leading a K-6 Catholic school. He spent two years as an assistant principal in an elementary school, and taught junior-high English for two years.
His resume doesn't include any position lasting more than two years. Although he has worked for Ector County ISD since fall 2010, his resume includes positions at three other Texas school districts.
Sanchez is also an adjunct professor at Texas A&M University-Commerce, where he teaches graduate-level education administration courses.
Last July, Sanchez withdrew as a finalist for the post of superintendent of Socorro Independent School District in El Paso. He was one of three finalists for that position.
Sanchez cited "exciting things happening" at Ector County ISD in a statement released by his district.
"The district is making great gains, the future is very promising, and I want to continue to be a part of this team," he wrote at the time.
Prior to his dropping out, some El Paso community members raised questions about his frequent job shifts.
From the El Paso Times:
During his 15 years of experience, Sanchez acknowledged, he had taken many jobs that lasted short periods.
"I'll say this: I would love to stay somewhere for more than half a year and not have someone move me up," Sanchez said. "My résumé looks like that because it's not about me wanting to go; it was a matter of going where I was needed. So when I looked at the superintendent seat in Socorro, I saw that I had an opportunity to work with many amazing people."
On a personal note, Sanchez added that his 5-year-old daughter, Anastasia Michaela Sanchez, would be starting kindergarten, and that his 2-year-old son, Heliodoro Torres Sanchez III, would follow in a few years.
"It's really important to me that she began and end her education in the same district," Sanchez said. "This is a great place to raise my two kids. I'm looking for a home, not for a short time but for a long time."
Public forum Wednesday
Sanchez will make a site visit to Tucson on Wednesday. A community forum will be held 7-9 p.m. at Catalina Magnet High School, 3645 E. Pima St., during which the public will be able to submit questions. Audio of the forum will be live-streamed on the TUSD website.
Also Wednesday, Sanchez will be interviewed again by the Governing Board, meet with TUSD leadership and tour some schools.
The search for a new superintendent began in April, when John Pedicone announced that he would resign from his post leading the 50,000-student district.
A search firm contracted by the district, Proact Search, received 67 applications, and narrowed the list to 21 applicants who were interviewed by the firm. Ten applicants were presented to the Governing Board for consideration, of whom four were interviewed.
The district has not released the names of any of the other applicants.
Stegeman declined to comment on the other applicants or the interviews, which presumably took place during executive session.
TUSD plans to pay its new superintendent $190-215,000, according to job postings.
"The Governing Board expects to name the new superintendent at an upcoming board meeting. The start date for the new superintendent will depend upon the availability of the selected candidate," district spokeswoman Cara Rene said in a news release.