Arlington ISD's Lone Finalist for Superintendent Declines Offer, Decides to Stay in G-PISD

Arlington Board of Trustees learns superintendent candidate signed a new contract with her current district three days before the end of a 21-day waiting period

Frank Heinz, NBC 5 News

The Arlington Independent School District Board of Trustees is resuming their search to replace outgoing Superintendent Dr. Marcelo Cavazos after their recently named lone finalist decided to pass on moving to North Texas.

On May 4 the board announced they'd voted unanimously to name Gregory-Portland ISD Superintendent Dr. Michelle Cavazos as their lone finalist to replace Dr. Marcelo Cavazos, no relation. On May 22, the board learned she was staying put on the Texas Gulf Coast and wouldn't be moving to Arlington after all.

Texas state law mandates a 21-day waiting period between naming a lone finalist for a superintendent position and when they can be put under contract. Just three days before the waiting period was to expire, the board learned Cavazos had signed a new five-year contract with her current district near Corpus Christi.

Gregory-Portland ISD
Dr. Michelle Cavazos

Following the announcement earlier this month that Cavazos was planning to move to Arlington, G-PISD Board of Trustees President Tim Flinn said in a statement they'd try to convince her to stay.

“We understand this is an incredible opportunity for Dr. Cavazos. However, if there is anything we might able to reasonably do to have her consider staying with G-PISD, our current board is committed to doing so as early as next week," Flinn said.

In a statement about her move to the AISD, Cavazos said she was not looking for a new position when contacted about the vacancy in Arlington and that she absolutely loved her job in the G-PISD. She said the opportunity to impact more students in Arlington ISD was among the reasons for her consideration of a new position and that she was "thrilled and honored to join the Arlington ISD" and looked forward to making her home in Arlington with her husband.

“I have no words today to express how deep my commitment is for G-PISD, nor how grateful I’ve been to serve as your Superintendent for the last three years. G-P is not the kind of place anyone would want to leave, so I am hopeful that our students, staff, and community can understand that interviewing with another district was not an easy decision to make," Cavazos said earlier this month.

On Monday, the G-PISD announced Cavazos's contract negotiations had broken down with the Arlington ISD and signed her to a new contract.

“The G-PISD board and this community were the first to believe in my style of leadership and fully embraced what I wanted to bring to the table,” Cavazos said in a statement. “For that reason, I have extended my regrets to the Arlington ISD board and decided to invest the next five years in continuing the good work we have begun here in G-P."

"To be clear: It is not easy to allow an opportunity like this one to pass by, simply because of the impact I know a superintendent can have in such a large district with so many good people to serve and support," Cavazos said.

The Arlington ISD is the 13th largest district in the state with more than 75 campuses, nearly 60,000 students, and an annual budget of $567 million. By comparison, the Gregory-Portland ISD has seven campuses and about 4,700 students with an annual budget of about $76 million.

Cavazos said she was appreciative of the offer made by the Arlington ISD and wished them the best in their search for their next superintendent.

“This school board is exceptional, and because they have placed their trust in me and proven their commitment by encouraging me to stay in G-PISD, I want to show them how much I, in turn, believe in them, in our students and staff, and the G-P community. It is for these reasons that I have chosen to decline an incredible offer from Arlington ISD and will place my hope and trust in our G-PISD board," Cavazos said.

Arlington ISD Board President Melody Fowler said that the search to replace the current Dr. Cavazos will resume. Board members are expected to begin discussing the next steps in the search process during Wednesday's meeting.

“We understand the enormity of the position we’re trying to fill and are committed to continuing our search to identify top candidates," Fowler said.

The current superintendent will continue leading the district in the meantime.

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