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Parson gets raise, extension

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Superintendent on par with others in profession

By Mercy Lopez

Anyone who knows Gene Parson knows he is all about the green and gold of West Las Vegas schools. Parson will continue leading his school district for at least two more years as superintendent. He has been awarded a two-year contract and a $15,000 salary increase by the school board.

“They saw fit that I get a little more,” Parson said in a recent interview. “Hopefully it will make up for all the stress” (that comes with being superintendent.)

The contract runs through June 2016. The raise brought his salary from roughly $95,000 to $110,000 — an increase of nearly 16 percent.

“The board felt we needed to put him where the rest of the superintendents in the area are in terms of pay and give him the pay of a superintendent,” board chairman David Romero said.

He said Parson’s salary had remained the same since being named superintendent in 2012. Romero added that Parson’s new salary will be equitable to other northern New Mexico superintendent’s salaries. He said the district is doing well financially and hopes to be off emergency supplemental funding next year.

Romero said he hopes to give other district employees raises after the district is off emergency supplemental funding.

Parson has served as superintendent since the abrupt resignation of Ruben Cordova in the fall of 2012. Prior to becoming superintendent, he served as the district’s associate superintendent and as principal at West Las Vegas High School for more than a decade.

Parson took over as associate superintendent in 2011 after Cordova shifted several high-profile administrators.

Parson’s tenure as superintendent has not always been smooth sailing.

In April 2014, two West Las Vegas Middle School students were killed in a DWI crash on I-25, near Tecolote. Parson, then-principal, provided comfort to his students in prior DWI crashes, and helped out again during the April 2013 crash.

When students returned to school just days after the fatality, Parson brought in a team of counselors to help the students and district employees cope with the tragedy that claimed the lives of Kayla Martinez and Aleandra “Aly” Sanchez.

In November 2013, he helped the school district cope with the death of teacher Mary Bustos.

At times, Parson has also found himself at odds with the union over such things as the implementation of the high school and middle school’s implementation of the 5x5 schedule. The schedule was implemented this school year. The new schedule devotes more time to required courses, which means shorter elective class periods.

The district’s teacher union challenged the new schedule, filing for an emergency injunction just weeks before the school year began. The union went before the state Public Employees Labor Relations Board and alleged that some district employees were unaware of the change and that the plan was a violation of the collective bargaining agreement.

The board ruled in the union’s favor. But District Judge Abigail Aragon ruled in the district’s favor to continue with the 5x5 schedule, overruling the state Public Employees Labor Relations Board order in August.

During his tenure, Parson also spearheaded the sodding of  the district’s softball and baseball fields off Cinder Road. His expertise in landscaping — he owns a private landscaping business — helped the district with the project. He donated the use of his equipment to the project and coordinated a crew of district personnel and volunteers throughout the project — saving the district thousands of dollars.

Parson is a 1977 graduate of West Las Vegas High School and has worked in education for more than three decades. He holds both his master’s and bachelor’s degrees in education.

His salary increase and two-year contract renewal were both unanimously approved by the board during a meeting earlier this month.

Cordova, meanwhile, has been named superintendent at Las Vegas City Schools. He is currently contracting with the district during the transition period and will start his position officially in July.