Edinburg prepared to begin superintendent search

‘Significant’ process seen if Gutiérrez departs district

The Edinburg school trustees will consider the next step in leadership if Superintendent René Gutiérrez is named lone finalist for the Brownsville Independent School District, a decision which is expected later this week.

The Brownsville ISD Board of Trustees will meet at 2 p.m. Thursday and consider naming Gutiérrez as the lone finalist, according to BISD’s agenda. Until then, ECISD Board President Robert Peña said the board will continue working with the superintendent until his possible departure from the district.

“Once we have affirmation in that everything is finalized with Brownsville, then obviously as a board we’re going to need to reconvene and consider naming an interim (superintendent) and then discussing the process that we would undertake in going forward for a permanent replacement,” Peña said.

Gutiérrez has served as the superintendent at Edinburg CISD since June 2009.

Peña said he expects the board to launch a “significant search process.” With Gutierrez’s position not yet finalized, the details of the hiring process to fill a superintendent vacancy still need to be discussed with the rest of the board, Peña said.

As board president, Peña said he made “preliminary discussions” with the superintendent a few months back that “led up to this decision by (Gutiérrez) and Brownsville.”

“It’s known in the industry that the average life expectancy (their tenure at a district) of a superintendent is anywhere from three to five years, and certainly he’s served well beyond that time,” said Peña, who has served 11 years on the board and worked with Gutiérrez during the entirety of his career as superintendent in Edinburg.

In accordance with the state law, there is a 21-day waiting period before a school board can approve a contract after naming a lone finalist. Brownsville ISD school board members will essentially have the authorization to approve a contract for the new superintendent three weeks from Thursday’s meeting.

Gutiérrez declined to comment when asked why he applied for the BISD position, saying he did not want to speak extensively before a lone finalist is named for the superintendent post in Brownsville.

The superintendent has education roots in the Rio Grande Valley, immigrating to McAllen from Mexico and graduated from McAllen High School. He obtained an associate degree in applied science from Texas Southmost College at Brownsville, according to the district website. He also obtained his bachelor’s degree in business administration also from TSC.

Gutiérrez also obtained his master’s and doctoral degrees in education and educational leadership, respectively, from the University of Texas Pan-American (now UTRGV) in Edinburg.

The two districts also share similarities. Edinburg CISD has one of the highest student enrollment numbers in Hidalgo County with 43 schools in its jurisdiction while BISD oversees 58 schools and is the highest-populated school district in Cameron County.

With Gutierrez possibly leaving around his 10th anniversary as superintendent, the board of trustees will undergo a process to find a qualified candidate.

“There’s a big challenge that lies ahead of us, because it’s a big district with a large student population, and a number of schools, and maintenance and repairs that need to be continued to be made,” Peña said. “Whoever comes on board, I personally hope will have the experience, the background, and the knowledge.”