New Roaring Fork Schools superintendent contract approved |

New Roaring Fork Schools superintendent contract approved

Jesús Rodríguez

The Roaring Fork School District Board of Education on Wednesday formally approved a contract for new superintendent Jesús Rodríguez, including some comments justifying his $220,000 salary level.

The board earlier this week announced it had finalized negotiations and arrived at the five-year deal with Rodríguez. The contract was subject to final approval at the Wednesday board meeting in Carbondale.

Board members acknowledged they’ve received some questions, both from within the school district and from the broader community about the contract amount, which is $52,772 more than current Superintendent Rob Stein is making.

Board President Kathryn Kuhlenberg said the extra pay will not come from the mill levy override dollars approved by voters in 2021, which remain dedicated to teacher and general staff wage increases, and not to district administration. That was embodied in a salary adjustment plan approved by the school board in March.

The superintendent’s pay is part of the general administration budget, said Nathan Markham, chief financial officer for the district.

The approved salary for Rodríguez is in the top one-third of comparative districts in Colorado, Kuhlenberg said.

School board member Natalie Torres added regarding the contract deal that those were districts comparable in size, demographics and cost of living, and not the larger metropolitan districts in the state.

“This took time, and we took our role in this very seriously,” Torres said. “(The contract) is a reflection of our commitment to go back and forth and come to an agreement that’s fair.”

According to the contract, the salary can be increased in the future as an agreed-upon addendum. Otherwise, “the superintendent’s salary shall be subject to the same cost-of-living adjustment as may be approved from time to time by the Board of Education for all District employees.”

Rodríguez is also set to receive up to $6,000 per year for continuing professional development, and an annual cellphone usage allowance of $1,200, according to the contract.

Rob Stein

Stein announced in January that he would be leaving the superintendent’s post after this school year. His $167,228 salary has remain unchanged for two years, and in past years he has not requested large increases.

However, that has meant his compensation has fallen below the market wage for superintendents in those comparable districts, he acknowledged at the Wednesday board meeting.

The contract for Rodríguez was approved on a 4-0 vote of the board, with member Maureen Stepp abstaining.

Rodríguez was announced earlier this month as the choice for superintendent from among three finalists. He is set to officially start with the district July 1.

Originally from Colorado, Rodríguez most recently has served as deputy chief academic officer for Dallas ISD public schools.

Prior to that, he served as an educator in a variety of capacities in Colorado, including as a bilingual classroom teacher, a turnaround school principal and an instructional superintendent in a network of 25 schools for Denver Public Schools.

He holds a bachelor’s in elementary education and Spanish from the University of Northern Colorado, a master’s in educational equity and cultural diversity from the University of Colorado-Boulder, and a doctorate in education leadership and policy studies from the University of Denver.

Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or

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