A divided school board voted 4-2 on Wednesday to extend Fresno Unified Superintendent Michael Hanson’s contract and give him a positive evaluation, but outgoing school board President Luis Chavez says that margin would’ve been narrower had he been there for the vote.
Trustees Carol Mills and Brooke Ashjian voted against Hanson, while Chavez was marked as absent. But Chavez – who is leaving the district to serve on the Fresno City Council – says had he not been late to the meeting, he would have been the third “no” vote on the board.
“It wouldn’t have been positive,” Chavez said when asked about how he would have voted. Trustees said they could not comment on their reasoning for their vote, citing personnel matters.
While Mills and Ashjian also voted “no” on Hanson’s evaluation last year, Chavez voted then to give him a positive evaluation.
Trustees Valerie Davis, Janet Ryan, Christopher De La Cerda and Cal Johnson voted in favor of Hanson.
Wednesday’s vote extends Hanson’s contract to June 30, 2021, and does not change his compensation. He makes about $370,000 in total pay and benefits.
It’s hard to say what Hanson’s evaluation will look like next year.
Wednesday’s meeting was also the last for Ryan, who is retiring after 12 years on the school board. Ryan has been an ardent supporter of Hanson and said Wednesday that hiring him more than a decade ago was “the best thing we ever did.”
I am humbled by tonight’s approval of my 13
FUSD Superintendent Michael Hanson
Two new school board members will be sworn in at the board’s next meeting on Dec. 14.
Elizabeth Jonasson Rosas will replace Chavez, representing the Roosevelt High area, and Claudia Cazares will replace Ryan, representing the Hoover High area. Both Jonasson Rosas – who is in a relationship with Chavez – and Cazares have said they are not against voting out Hanson, but are willing to give him a chance.
Hanson’s annual evaluation comes amid controversy: The school district is under federal investigation regarding multimillion-dollar no-bid contracts for construction projects. In the past year, Hanson has faced opposition from Mills, Ashjian and others.
Hanson was out of town during Wednesday’s meeting, but said in an email that he was “humbled” by his 13th consecutive positive evaluation.
“Tonight’s positive evaluation recognizes our record 84 percent graduation rate, increases in the number of students going to college, investments in career technology education and community support with the recent approval of Measure X,” Hanson said. “In the last decade, we have made great strides in changing the educational trajectory of our youth and I look forward to seeing that continue.”