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Our Opinion: Holtville byout concerns

May 17, 2001

The Holtville Unified School District Board of Trustees action to remove Carlos Vega as superintendent of the district remains shrouded in mystery.

The action was taken in closed session and there has been little public discussion about the reason for the move. As always, we would like to have more information on why the action was taken, and so would the people of Holtville and those in the education community around the Imperial Valley. Rumors are being circulated but rumors don't suffice.

We do think the package given Vega to buy out his contract is a bit much, particularly when he was forced out, from what we are told. He will walk away with a package worth more than $100,000. We agree with Trustee Paula Daniels, who said she has a problem with buyouts. This buyout seems particularly unwise for the district. When we are talking about that amount of money the public deserves to have more information why the package was approved.

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That said, we wish Anne Mallory the best of luck as interim superintendent of the district. It is difficult to say how long she will remain in that position as the district searches for a permanent replacement for Vega, but she brings a long history of service as superintendent of the Westmorland Union Elementary School District. Mallory left the Westmorland district to take a position as special assistant to the superintendent of county schools. The county Office of Education, where Mallory now works, will help with the arduous process of finding a new superintendent for Holtville.

While Westmorland is a much smaller district than Holtville, Mallory does have the skills and personality to guide the district while in the interim.

The Holtville school district has had a history of controversy in recent years, all related to the management of the district. We thought things were starting to get better. The students in the district deserve the best education possible, and that can only happen when controversy dissolves and school officials focus on nothing but the improvement of educational services.

We hope Mallory can help maintain that focus, but our concern is now the district will have to spend much of its time rebuilding the administration. That is never easy to do.

What the district has in its favor is that Mallory is a proven leader. She can and will do a good job. The district has the good fortune of having summer coming shortly. That means district officials will have the summer to settle management issues so the district can be ready for the start of the fall semester. We can only hope the district will be ready.

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