Metro schools director Pedro Garcia says the school board shouldn't extend his contract right now because he hasn't delivered on his promise of improved test scores.
In a letter (posted here) sent Wednesday to board chair Pam Garrett and copied to her eight board colleagues, Garcia wrote that "much needed positive change has taken place over the past three years." But citing what are expected to be underwhelming test scores this year, the director wrote, "I prefer my contract not be extended until the majority of the Board has seen the significant increase in student achievement for which I was hired to deliver."
Garcia's current contract doesn't expire until June 30, 2007, but an upcoming annual performance evaluation by the board was expected to prompt contract renewal discussions. If test scores remain flat for the second year in a row, as Garcia indicated they would, those discussions could get tense.
"It certainly makes it easier for us," board member Chris Norris told Late Edition on Thursday. She said Garcia was simply taking the pressure off the board because he recognized he hadn't fulfilled his promisesalthough Norris, citing redistricting and state and national policy changes, said in Garcia's defense it's been a "hellacious" time to be Nashville's schools director.
Garrett, too, appreciates Garcia's effort to hold himself accountable, describing it as "an ethical thing to do." But as is often the case with the independent-minded schools director, Garrett said he could have gone about it differently. "I told him yesterday I would have liked to have spoken with you before you did this," she said Friday. "However, since it's done, I do think it's fair."