La Joya school board approves $275,000 contract for new superintendent

The La Joya ISD Board of Trustees approved a contract for Gisela Saenz on Friday to serve as superintendent of schools for more than a quarter of a million dollars.

The decision came Friday evening during a special called meeting. She will enter a three-year contract with a base pay of $275,000 starting Friday and ending June 28, 2022, school district attorney Benjamin Castillo said.

The school board announced Saenz as the lone finalist on April 30 of over 20 applicants. In accordance with state law, there was a 21-day waiting period for the board to be able to approve the contract.

Saenz has served in an interim capacity since former superintendent Alda Benavides voluntarily resigned in February. Saenz’s tenure at the La Joya school district began as a teacher, instructional supervisor, principal and assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

Benavides received a severance pay of over $300,000 and was compensated for 105 “earned but unused” leave and vacation days. Benavides signed a non-disclosure agreement with the district and will continue to be paid for her salary and benefits as stated in her contract through June 30.

“I’m honored that you’ve given me this responsibility, and I just want to say that I will do the job to the utmost of my ability,” Saenz said after the trustees approved her contract Friday evening.