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School board members reflect on superintendent hiring process

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Dr. Ann McIlroy signs her contract with RISD, as school board members look on. Dr. Kathleen Pittman, Secretary Alan Gedde, President Mona Kirk and Vice President Ruben Sanchez stand in the middle row with James Edwards in the back. With a vote of 4 to 1, Edwards cast the only opposing vote for McIlroy but said he was here to work with the team without compromising his values. (Alison Penn Photo)

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The Roswell Independent School District (RISD) board shared reflections on the superintendent hiring process during a special meeting on Monday evening.

The board hired Dr. Ann Lynn McIlroy as superintendent for the 2018-2019 school year during the meeting.

“It has been grueling,” President Mona Kirk said. “It has been a wonderful learning experience. We’ve had a lot of bonding. It has been difficult. We’ve had very heated language and moments but in the end, we came together as a board, listened to each of our comments and said ‘this is the direction we will go.’

Susan Sanchez, left, sits with her assistant Holly Cain during the special meeting where Dr. Ann McIlroy was hired as RISD’s superintendent on Monday. Sanchez was thanked by the board for leading RISD for the past fourteen months. (Alison Penn Photo)

“I want to thank (interim superintendent) Susan Sanchez for her dedication and leading us through these last 14 months when we asked her. She did not hesitate — she said ‘Yes, I will this lead district. I will be there for you.’ She has as much passion for RISD as I do.”

Ruben Sanchez, board vice president, said Susan Sanchez’s hard work and dedication has meant a lot to the district and said good things are in store for RISD. Ruben Sanchez said he was excited to work with Dr. McIlroy and is also excited for everyone in the district — from the students to the administration.

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Susan Sanchez released the following statement to the Daily Record Tuesday afternoon: “I would like to take the opportunity to thank the teachers, students, staff, administrators, parents and all of our community for a great 14 months of collaboration and support in the district serving you as your interim superintendent. The partnerships that we have created to move RISD forward will flourish with student successes and opportunities.”

Kirk said this has been her home for 32 years and she hopes the board and McIlroy will move the district forward. She thanked each board member for their effort in making the decision.

Board member Kathleen Pittman thanked the RISD staff, administration and community advisory committees for their contributions and said McIlroy and the board will listen first and then act to make the district “the greatest ever.”

Rueben Sanchez, vice president of the school board, shared his gratitude toward Dr. Gloria Rendon and Theresa Saiz for their work guiding the hiring process, noting this is one of the biggest decisions a school board makes. Kirk highly recommended that other school boards searching for superintendents contract services and not attempt the task themselves.

Secretary Alan Gedde said that without Rendon and Saiz’s leadership the board would have faced a difficult challenge, and recognized the hard work behind the process.

James Edwards, another board member, said his dissenting vote when it came time to consider McIlroy was not an indictment of McIlroy. Earlier in the meeting, he also said the administrative team Susan Sanchez put together during a difficult time of transition had impressed him.

“I’m here to work with the group,” Edwards said. “But by no means am I going to compromise my values. I’ll never do that. Everybody out there knows me, I don’t compromise. I am strong in what I think and I won’t change that for anybody.”

Gedde summed up the difficulty of the board’s decision, given the work Sanchez has done as interim superintendent.

“We had to make a tough decision,” Gedde said. “One that we feel good about and very bad about at the same time. I think we are excited to have Dr. McIlroy — very excited to have her. Thank you so much for applying and for giving us the chance to get to know you better. But it has been bittersweet all the way around because anytime we made a decision where one of your own, who you love dearly, you just want it to be a really good transition.”

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.