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Espinoza officially new chief of SISD [El Paso Times, Texas]

By Alex Hinojosa, El Paso Times, Texas
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Sept. 05--During a special board meeting Tuesday, trustees of the Socorro Independent School District finalized a contract and hired Jose Espinoza, former Houston Independent School District improvement officer, as superintendent.

Espinoza will begin Monday and replaces former Superintendent Xavier De La Torre.

Espinoza's contract includes an annual salary of $240,000, a monthly $700 automobile allowance and a $625 monthly stipend for additional expenses relating to district business.

"I'm extremely honored that I've been named the superintendent for the Socorro Independent School District," Espinoza said.

"My initial goals are to meet, listen and learn from all the stakeholders and identify what are some of the strengths, challenges and needs of the district. After that, I want to come up with a plan to move the district forward."

Espinoza will be the district's chief for a three-year term. At the end of that time, he may choose to renew his contract.

"We ( my family and I) want to be here for a lot longer than three years," Espinoza said. "We are going to be here for the long haul."

Glenda Hawthorne, president of the Socorro Education Association, said she is happy with the board's decision and looks forward to working with Espinoza.

"I think he will do well," Hawthorne said.

"I want to have an open and candid relationship with him so that we can alleviate some things before they blow up. With potential cuts from the next

legislative session, I see some rough seas ahead, but hopefully Dr. Espinoza will be able to lead our district through those choppy waters and take us to safe harbor."

After unanimously approving his appointment, board members and Espinoza went into an executive session to discuss the appointments of new administrators and the ongoing criminal proceedings against former board members Charlie Garcia, Raymundo "Ray" Rodriguez, and Guillermo "Willie" Gandara Sr.

Garcia and Rodriguez have pleaded guilty to a scheme to steer $100 million to Access HealthSource, a health insurance provider, in 2006.

Gandara Sr., a former SISD board president and Socorro mayor, also allegedly accepted bribes from the insurance agency in exchange for a vote in their favor.

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After meeting in closed session with the school district's attorney, district officials did not discuss the criminal proceedings in open session.

Alex Hinojosa may be reached at ahinojosa@elpasotimes.com; 546-6137.

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(c)2012 the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas)

Visit the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas) at www.elpasotimes.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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