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Aubrey school district’s leadership in transition

Profile image for By Britney Tabor / Staff Writer
By Britney Tabor / Staff Writer

The Aubrey school district leadership has been in transition for the last couple of months.

In recent weeks: Deputy Superintendent Debby Sanders has taken the reins as interim superintendent; former Superintendent James Monaco was hired as Aubrey’s chief financial officer; and Mike Sessions, former school board president, resigned from the board with nearly two years remaining in his term.

Sanders started her one-year term as Aubrey’s interim superintendent on July 1. Since April, Sanders has served as acting superintendent in Monaco’s absence. In June, the board appointed Sanders as interim superintendent until June 30, 2014, and approved a $20,000 stipend for her.

Sanders attended grade school in Aubrey and has worked for the school district for more than 30 years, serving as a math teacher, girls basketball coach, counselor, principal and central office administrator. She calls it an honor having been named interim superintendent.

“For the board to have confidence in my skills to let me run the district ... it’s humbling,” Sanders said. “As each day goes by, I’m more excited about the job.”

Her goal, Sanders said, is that every decision be made only after considering what is best for the students.

“I want that question to be asked before we make any decisions,” she said.

Ron Bullock, who was elected school board president by trustees June 5, said Sander’s appointment to interim superintendent is an opportunity “she deserved and she’s earned.” Sanders, he said, has been with Aubrey “in virtually every capacity” and the board in wanting to continue academic and financial excellence felt it best to appoint her interim superintendent.

He said it was a mutual decision of the board that Sanders be appointed to the position for one year so that it could be determined whether she wants the position long-term and so that the board could evaluate Sanders and her performance.

“The board has tremendous confidence in Mrs. Sanders, and we all believe it will work,” Bullock said.

Monaco, Sanders’ former boss, started work as the district’s chief financial officer the same day that Sanders stepped into the interim superintendent role.

The board voted to enter into a contract with JR3 Education Associates LP, a Waco-based company that hires and places retired educators temporarily in school systems. Since retiring in 2002, Monaco has been an “at-will” employee of JR3 Education Associates — Monaco served as Aubrey superintendent under a contract the district entered with JR3.

According to documents obtained through the district, a monthly rate will be paid to JR3 Education Associates totaling $6,250 for Monaco’s services for 110 work days between July 1 and June 30, 2014.

Last August, Monaco announced he would be scaling back on his workdays as superintendent in preparation for retirement.

Sanders and Terrie McNabb, former director of special programs, were promoted to deputy superintendent and assistant superintendent, respectively, and took on more duties as a result.

In a letter Monaco wrote to the school board earlier this spring, he announced he would step down as superintendent June 30.

Upon receiving the letter, the district submitted a 90-day notice to JR3 Education Associates indicating its intent to terminate its agreement for Monaco’s services as superintendent.

Bullock said it was Monaco’s years of experience handling district finances and history of “excellent” results that led the board to hire him through JR3 Education Associates as its chief financial officer.

“Quite simply, we’re very fortunate he agreed to stay on,” Bullock said of Monaco. “He wanted to cut back on his work schedule, and this was a way he could still be involved. I just couldn’t be happier that Jim can stay on in that position.”

Prior to being hired for the position, Monaco said part of his responsibility as superintendent was “balancing the books.” The district did not have a business manager, he said. In his new role, Monaco said he has fewer work days and works behind the scenes.

“I’m just kind of being the background player, and I’m enjoying that,” Monaco said.

Effective June 30, Sessions resigned from the Aubrey school board citing personal and health reasons, according to a letter he submitted to Monaco in April. His unfinished term on the board expires May 2015.

Bullock said no action has been taken on filling Session’s seat on the board. Trustees are looking into options for replacing Sessions and have asked the administration to present information on options for discussion at a future board meeting.

BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876 and via Twitter at @BritneyTabor.