A divided Denver school board voted Thursday morning to give Superintendent Alex Marrero a 17% raise, increasing his base salary to $305,000.
Two members of the Board of Education questioned how the board went about negotiating the new contract. The board voted 4 to 3 to approve a new contract for Marrero, which also extends his employment at Denver Public Schools by a year, to June 30, 2026.
Directors Auon’tai Anderson, Scott Esserman and Michelle Quattlebaum voted against the new contract.
Marrero now will earn $45,000 a year more than he did under his previous contract, which paid him $260,000 a year as superintendent of DPS.
The Board of Education has met with Marrero several times in executive sessions — which are closed to the public — since last year to discuss his contract.
The board hired Marrero in 2021 after Susana Cordova, who led the district for about two years, resigned. About six months into Marrero’s tenure, the board extended his initial contract by two years so that it would run through June 30, 2025.
The vote on the new contract comes as city leaders and community members have criticized the district for plans to close schools amid declining enrollment and its response to school safety.
Board members have at times said they were blindsided by Marrero’s plans to close schools. The first plan, which was both proposed by the superintendent and rejected by the board last fall, was altered twice as DPS ultimately reduced the number of schools recommended for closure from 10 to two.
(The board later decided to close three schools in the coming months.)
There also was a dispute between the district and the Denver mayor’s office after the March 22 shooting at East High School and after the board voted to put school resource officers back into high schools nearly three years after deciding to remove them.
Board Vice President Auon’tai Anderson alleged Marrero told directors that if they didn’t act then there was a plan for Mayor Michael Hancock to use executive action to put armed police back into schools.
The mayor’s office has repeatedly denied the allegations, but Marrero told The Denver Post that he and Hancock did discuss such use of executive power.
In April, Denver City Council members criticized Marrero for not attending a meeting with them about school safety, Axios Denver reported.
This is a developing story that will be updated.
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