New Roaring Fork Schools superintendent contract approved |

New Roaring Fork Schools superintendent contract approved

The Roaring Fork School District Board of Education on Wednesday formally approved its contract with new superintendent Jesús Rodríguez, including some board member comments justifying his $220,000 salary level.

The board earlier this week announced it had finalized negotiations and arrived at the five-year deal with Rodríguez. The contract was subject to final approval at the Wednesday board meeting in Carbondale.

Board members acknowledged they had received some questions, both from within the school district and from the broader community, about the contract amount. Rodriguez will be making $52,772 more per year than current Superintendent Rob Stein.

Board President Kathryn Kuhlenberg clarified that the extra pay will not come from the mill levy override dollars approved by voters in 2021, which remain dedicated to teacher and general staff wage increases, and not to district administration. That was embodied in a salary adjustment plan approved by the school board in March.

The superintendent’s pay is part of the general administration budget, said Nathan Markham, chief financial officer for the district.

“We used comparison data from 10 sister districts in looking at the contract (for Rodríguez) and the terms we arrived upon,” Kuhlenberg said.

One of those district boards, Garfield Re-2 in Rifle, on Wednesday increased the salary for Superintendent Heather Grumley from $159,685 to $200,000 for the 2022-23 school year, indicating the bar is being raised among other districts.

Comparable school district superintendent salaries (2021-22)

Aspen: $203,940

Eagle County: $233,289

Mesa County: $221,698

Delta County: $144,971

Garfield Re-2: $159,685 (increased to $200,000 for 2022-23)

Steamboat Springs: $214,788

Telluride: $155,000

Durango: $200,000

Summit County: $210,000

Average: $193,708

Source: Colorado Department of Education

Roaring Fork school board member Natalie Torres said during the Wednesday meeting that the districts referred to were comparable in size, demographics and cost of living, and not the larger metropolitan districts in the state.

“This took time, and we took our role in this very seriously,” Torres said. “(The contract) is a reflection of our commitment to go back and forth and come to an agreement that’s fair.”

According to the contract, the salary can be increased in the future as an agreed-upon addendum. Otherwise, “the superintendent’s salary shall be subject to the same cost-of-living adjustment as may be approved from time to time by the Board of Education for all District employees.”

Rodríguez is also set to receive up to $6,000 per year for continuing professional development, and an annual cell phone usage allowance of $1,200, according to the contract.

“From the beginning, the Roaring Fork Schools community is somewhere I wanted to be … and I feel like there is some great work happening there that I look forward to being a part of,” said Rodríguez, who was reached by phone Thursday in Dallas where he is wrapping up as deputy chief academic officer for the Dallas Independent School District.

“The Roaring Fork Schools community is very much like the community where I grew up, with some of the same socio-economic differences and diversity,” said Rodríguez, who grew up in Brighton north of Denver. “It feels a lot like home for me.”

Rob Stein

Stein announced in January that he would be leaving the superintendent’s post after this school year. His $167,228 salary has remained unchanged for two years, and in past years he has not requested large increases.

However, that has meant his compensation has fallen below the market wage for superintendents in those comparable districts, he acknowledged at the Wednesday board meeting.

The contract for Rodríguez was approved on a 4-0 vote of the board, with member Maureen Stepp abstaining.

Rodríguez was announced earlier this month as the choice for superintendent from among three finalists. He is set to officially start with the district July 1.

A Colorado native, prior to his time in Dallas he served as an educator in a variety of capacities in Colorado, including as a bilingual classroom teacher, a turnaround school principal and an instructional superintendent in a network of 25 schools for Denver Public Schools.

He holds a bachelor’s in elementary education and Spanish from the University of Northern Colorado, a master’s in educational equity and cultural diversity from the University of Colorado-Boulder, and a doctorate in education leadership and policy studies from the University of Denver.

Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or

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