Superintendent Gets Contract Extension


The board of the Ventura Unified School District voted 4 to 1 Tuesday night to extend the contract of Supt. Cesare Caldarelli despite a plea from the president of the teachers union to delay the vote.

The board's decision, which adds another year to Caldarelli's $84,392-a-year contract, follows a stormy 1989-90 school year in the district that included an effort by administrators to start their own union and culminated in May when the teachers union gave a vote of no confidence to Caldarelli.

Under the terms of the three-year contract, the board reviews Caldarelli's performance annually and decides whether to extend the contract another year.

Before Tuesday's vote, Caldarelli had two years remaining on his contract. The board's decision extends the contract until June, 1993.

Board member Terence M. Kilbride said Caldarelli had met the board's goals for the past year and deserved to have his contract extended.

But board member John Walker, who voted against the contract extension, said the contract "was simply not a good business decision for this district." Walker said extending the contract and Caldarelli's performance were two separate issues. "A no vote is not a vote of no confidence, but rather an exercise of good financial judgment."

In a prepared statement addressed to the board, John Gennaro, president of the 660-member Ventura Unified Education Assn., called the board's decision premature and criticized board members for not talking to teachers before the vote.

"The teachers seriously want to know if their voice has been heard," Gennaro said. "We see this as a testing year."

In an interview earlier Tuesday, Gennaro said last May's no-confidence vote, in which 93% of 524 teachers voted no confidence in Caldarelli, was "pretty strong evidence that there is some kind of conflict, and they need to get out there and find out what the problem is."

Gennaro said the union also objects to the type of contract the board has with Caldarelli, because if the board votes each year to extend the contract, the superintendent perpetually has three years remaining.

Officials from both the California School Boards Assn. and the Assn. of California School Administrators, however, said such multiyear extendable contracts are not uncommon.

"It adds some stability to a district," said Fred Leonard, an executive with the school administrators group.

But union officials had urged school board members to hold off on the vote, arguing that a delay would give the superintendent and teachers time to work out their problems and would still leave Caldarelli with at least two years of employment with the district.

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