By Betsy Dolan
Fort Bend ISD Superintendent Dr. Timothy Jenney will be with the district at least through 2016. The district’s Board of Trustees voted in favor of a one year contract extension, a $36,000 bonus and an increase in his communication allowance at their meeting January 9. The school district would not comment specifically on the renewal but did issue a news release in which Board President Susan Hohnbaum cited the need for consistent leadership in Fort Bend ISD.
“Dr. Jenney fulfilled our expectations and accomplished all of the Board and Superintendent goals we set for this past year. We are fortunate to have Dr. Jenney’s experienced leadership and he is performing his job well”.
Fort Bend ISD says Dr. Jenney’s contract, which includes a base salary of $260,339 plus bonuses and other compensation, is standard for superintendents in Texas. The district also says that Dr. Jenney voluntarily gave up $34,000 or half of his bonus, this past year.
Yet some Fort Bend ISD educators, who would only talk to the “Fort Bend Star” provided they could remain anonymous, expressed their displeasure at the contract extension. They say animosity toward Dr. Jenney has been building since massive layoffs started in the district two years ago.
“Andy”, a high school teacher, says the contract extension doesn’t surprise him because board members are too scared to speak out against Dr. Jenney. He says the superintendent’s abrasive management style and a tendency to put the pressure on until he gets his own way has board members ‘going along to get along’.
“These are tough times for a lot of schools. When things are tough for everybody it is nice to see that everybody is kicking in from the top on down. The cynical side of me says that he will just keep pushing for whatever he wants and if people are successful in driving him away that will just be another buyout year for him.”
“Dana”, also a teacher, says she’s hearing rumors of another reduction in force (RIF). The district had their first round of layoffs, 463 employees in the spring of 2010 with another 483 employees affected in April of 2011. “Dana” says teacher morale is the lowest she’s ever seen.
“People are looking over their shoulders, looking to see who is around when they are talking. But our job is to teach and when you don’t have confidence in your support system it makes it hard to do your job and to get those test scores up.”
Dr. Jenney is entering his sixth year as the superintendent of Fort Bend ISD. The board says stability in leadership is critical for the success of the district.
“As the seventh-largest school district in the state and the largest employer in the county, the continued success of Fort Bend ISD is vital to our community, especially to the 69,000 students we serve,” said Hohnbaum. “We will continue to face complex challenges and in turn make important decisions that will shape the future of the District.”
Dr. Jenney’s latest contract extension comes one year after board members approved a five year contract renewal.