Former district spokesman Brad Sales, a Zacarias confidant and loyalist, was not impressed: “Yeah, there are bathrooms that need to be cleaned up and textbooks that may not have gotten to every kid -- though we were told otherwise. But we felt we were making needed change. And though bathrooms and books are important, Cortines has got to do more than clean bathrooms and get textbooks out there. That was frankly a shallow statement of priorities.”
Cortines more or less concurred. “I do agree that‘s just the surface,” he said. “But I’m trying to send a message. There are some basic, symbolic things that we need to do. To people in the schools, books and bathrooms are damn important.” But they‘re just a starting point. “Before I leave here, I will leave the school board a functional reorganization plan based on looking at things and talking to various people and my own past experience on how you make a system run smoother with fewer people at the central office.”
Cortines and school-board members well understand that if they don’t get it right, outside forces will push for a different sort of restructuring: the permanent breakup of the massive school system.
So how about the Zacarias plan as a starting blueprint?
“I‘ve never seen it,” said Cortines, adding that for now, “I’m an adviser to Superintendent Zacarias. That‘s between him and the board.”
At the press conference after the school board voted to buy out his contract, Zacarias seemed surprised when a reporter brought up the subject. And attorney Coyne was touched that someone would even inquire: “To be honest, it’s nice to be asked about it. No one has shown much interest.”