WATSONVILLE—The Pajaro Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees on Wednesday agreed to renew the contract for Superintendent Michelle Rodriguez for another four years.
Trustees Oscar Soto, Maria Orozco, Jennifer Schacher, Jennifer Holm and Kim De Serpa voted in favor of the approval. Trustees Georgia Acosta and Daniel Dodge, Jr. were absent.
Rodriguez’s contract approval comes a week after her annual evaluation, during which she gave a presentation of her accomplishments since she was hired in 2016.
Board President Jennifer Holm said that, unlike most other district employees, Rodriguez’s contract does not have an annual step-and-column increase. But it does include a five-year, 2.5% “longevity increase,” which brings her annual pay to $222,832.
“I want to thank you for your work, especially in bringing art and music programs to our classrooms and for the incredible amount of innovative opportunities that you have brought the PVUSD community,” she said.
The extension of Rodriguez’s contract is notable because just eight months ago the board voted 4-3 to terminate her position, with Dodge, Soto, Schacher and Acosta in favor.
Her position was reinstated five days later after widespread uproar and hours of public comments, most of them in support of Rodriguez.
Just one person spoke during the public comment period—Pajaro Valley Federation of Teachers President Nelly Vaquera-Boggs, who said teachers, particularly those in South County schools, are feeling “demoralized.”
“We want to retain teachers, we want to retain staff and we want to retain the good people that come to work for us,” she said. “In order for us to address the whole child, that is the support staff.”
Vaquera-Boggs added that the district has had time to retain and attract teachers.
“You refused to do so,” she said. “Instead you used your managerial rights to push the limits of our members’ workloads and mental health.”
The result, she said, is 30 vacant positions, mostly in Watsonville-area schools, leaving teachers there struggling to fill the vacancies.
Acosta, who led the effort to terminate Rodriguez, has never publicly explained the reasons behind the decision. She has not responded to numerous requests by this news organization for comment.
Dodge also did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
“We got off to a rocky start at the beginning,” Soto told Rodriguez, apparently referring to her termination that occurred just as his term began. “But as adults, we spoke and we clarified things and we moved forward, and seeing the information you presented—it’s pretty substantial and pretty impressive.”