Who can argue with him wanting his Mama’s tamales and, as he said, “some good Mexican food” for the rest of his life? No doubt, it will taste all the better since he has landed a high-paying job in Texas as senior vice president of a Chicago-based national education consulting firm and will be able to work from home, eliminating any weather-related problems in commuting to work.
Things are looking great for Dr. Hinojosa. He came here in June 2011, and his contract was to expire at the end of this year. With benefits, bonuses and other “incentives,” he is being paid $277,000 a year plus about $208,000 from his Texas retirement plan — considerably better in total than the $328,000 he drew as the Dallas schools superintendent.
Under Hinojosa’s contract, according to Cobb district spokesman Jay Dillon, the school board annually contributes an amount equal to 8 percent of the superintendent’s $237,000 salary to a retirement fund — which would be $56,880 for three years. It’s fair to say he has done very well financially in his last two jobs. With the lucrative consulting work, he can retire in style. Plus, he will be back with his family including his wife, his mother and mother-in-law.
There was another surprise. Hinojosa said he made his decision to leave Cobb over the holidays. But he did not inform the board until right before its Monday meeting at which he made the decision public. Why not? In mid-January, he gave the board a list of the 14 members of his executive cabinet whose contracts he wanted to renew six months ahead of teachers, but the board balked on that unexpected move. In 2012, Hinojosa wanted to arrange it so his cabinet would know by Jan. 31 each year if their contracts would be renewed.
In January, since he had already decided to leave, trying to protect the jobs of people he appointed was not a good idea. There should be a level playing field for all employees — and the next superintendent should not have his hands tied in any way.
The most important question, however, does not concern the departing superintendent. It concerns who will be the next one. On that point, the school board should start with the Cobb district. It’s hard to believe there are not well-qualified educators in this district more than capable of doing the job. Many outstanding businesses learned long ago that promoting from within paid off because of the experience and commitment of employees who earned the right to move up — including to the top job.
If the school board can’t find a qualified superintendent within the ranks of Cobb educators, that’s a sad and alarming commentary on the state of the educational system in this county.