New Roaring Fork Schools superintendent committed to learning more along the way
A key provision of incoming new Roaring Fork Schools Superintendent Jesús Rodríguez’s contract enables him to further his professional development as the district’s chief administrator.
“Dr. Rodriguez has made it very clear that he is very committed to professional development and personal growth, which can benefit our district,” school board member Natalie Torres said during the May 25 meeting when Rodríguez’s five-year contract and $220,000 annual salary were approved by the board.
Torres offered that as context in the decisions of the negotiating team and ultimately the board to up the superintendent’s pay from the current level of $167,228 for outgoing Superintendent Rob Stein.
Rodríguez is also in line to be reimbursed up to $6,000 per year for “expenses associated with obtaining professional development relevant to superintendent’s work with the district,” according to the contract terms.
It’s a benefit Rodríguez said he fully intends to make use of as he grows into his first school district superintendent position.
“One of my values as an educator is a belief in continuous improvement,” Rodríguez said in an interview following the school board’s decision.
“I believe we can all work to get a little bit better at what we do,” he said. “As an educator, I feel like there are a lot of things I’m pretty good at, but even with those things I can learn to get better.”
Although Rodríguez comes to the Roaring Fork School District with a fair amount of district-level experience, as with other past RFSD superintendents, including Stein, this will be his first head superintendent’s job.
Most recently, Rodríguez has served as deputy chief academic officer for the Dallas Independent School District in Texas, one of the largest school districts in the country.
Prior to that the Colorado native was a bilingual classroom teacher; a principal at Trevista at Horace Mann, a preK-through-fifth-grade school in the Denver Public Schools District, which at the time was a state turnaround school; and an instructional superintendent for a network of 25 DPS schools.
He also served a stint as executive director for the BUENO Center at the University of Colorado-Boulder, a multicultural education program that’s part of the university’s School of Education.
Rodrîguez said he had the opportunity to apply for upcoming vacant superintendent positions in Texas, but the Roaring Fork Schools job was the only one he ended up pursuing.
“From the beginning, the Roaring Fork schools community was somewhere I wanted to be,” he said. “I didn’t apply lightly, because I have a really good situation here in Dallas working with an amazing team in a great community. But the Roaring Fork Schools community called me; there’s great work that’s happening there and some needs that I think I can help address.
“It also happens to be in Colorado, where I had hoped to return to at some point in my career,” said the Brighton native.
Already, Rodríguez said he has applied to become a member of the Rural Superintendents Academy, which is facilitated by the Colorado Education Initiative.
“It’s a great opportunity to engage in cohort learning with a group of 12 to 15 rural superintendents,” he explained. “We come together and learn at different times throughout the year and to discuss issues common to rural superintendents.”
The group is also active in lobbying state officials for rural education needs, he said.
One issue in particular for the Roaring Fork Schools that Rodríguez said he looks forward to tackling is the achievement gap between Anglo and Latino students.
“That’s an area where I have experiences in narrowing those differences in achievement,” he said, referring to his experience at Trevista in particular.
Rodríguez said he expects to arrive in the Roaring Fork Valley by late June. He is set to begin as superintendent of Roaring Fork District schools in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt on July 1.
Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or email@example.com.
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