AURORA | Superintendent Rico Munn will be leading APS for at least another two years. But new board members used the vote on his contract to express mounting frustration with what they call a lack of transparency from Munn and his team.
Munn’s two-year extension was approved by 6-1 with board member Kyla Armstrong-Romero breaking with the board and voting no. But she wasn’t alone in voicing reservations about the direction of the district when it comes to keeping board members in the loop over major decision.
Board member Debbie Gerkin said that while she knew Munn was talented, she was concerned that the district wasn’t no the right track in regards to the relationship between administration, the board and teachers.
“I have this nagging feeling we’re not on the right track,” Gerkin said. “Open communication isn’t just informing people in a timely manner about what’s going to happen. It’s working with people to identity problems, coming up with creative solutions and studying the results together.”
Board member Dan Jorgensen, while praising Munn, also expressed frustration over the lack of communication on issues like major changes to the Personalized Learning/Ed Tech and Multi-Tiered System of Supports. The board first learned about changes to the programs, and at one point the potential for layoffs, from staff members and not the administration.
Jorgensen’s said the reasons for the program changes have themselves changed, from budget cuts to building capacity to the most recent announcement that the MTSS team is being brought back in a new structure.
“That gets at the missing piece of transparency that we need,” Jorgensen said. “I think that’s the challenge we face.”
Armstrong-Romero highlighted the back and forth from the board’s perspective about change to the two programs, something that came to light after the APS board offered the contract extension to Munn.
“One minute we’re told MTSS is gone and Ed Tech is gone and in the next minute it’s a completely different story,” Armstrong-Romero said. “I ran on transparency. And it’s obvious that’s lacking. Perhaps not for everyone. However it’s been transparent that it’s lacking in the district. And I’m concerned about that.”
While Board President Marques Ivey said he believed transparency and communication was an issue, he took time with his comments to address comments he had been receiving from members of the public about why he had been elected to the board last November.
“I was told you were elected to fire Rico. Let me be clear, no one ran on a platform of firing (Munn),” Ivey said.
But in the end, the board decided to move forward with Munn in the position he’s been in since 2013. The contract will pay Munn $236,391 annually for the next two years, subject to the same annual salary increases made to APS administrative staff and to 10-percent bonuses for APS improving in its accreditation category from the state’s District Performance Framework.
Munn said he was honored to be able to continue to serve the students of APS and continue to build off the momentum the district has been able to gather over the past few years.
“I think you heard a majority of the board say great things about the direction of the district and the work that’s going on. Then you heard them say there are some things they want to improve. That’s a general sentiment that we all share,” Munn said. “I think it’s about relationship building. We’re going through a lot of processes that are new for a majority of the board and we have to continue to think about how we explain those processes, explain those structures, which may be different then what we had to do with different people before.”