Contract negotiation for Stamford schools superintendent stuck in 'stalemate'

Photo of Ignacio Laguarda
Superintendent of Stamford Public Schools Dr. Tamu Lucero discusses the 2020-2021 budget proposal in her office at the Government Center in Stamford, Conn. Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020.

Superintendent of Stamford Public Schools Dr. Tamu Lucero discusses the 2020-2021 budget proposal in her office at the Government Center in Stamford, Conn. Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020.

Tyler Sizemore / Hearst Connecticut Media

STAMFORD — By mid-July most years, the school superintendent’s contract is a done deal available to view online.

Not this year.

Tamu Lucero’s contract is still in negotiations, despite the version of her contract posted on the district’s website that says voting on a new agreement will be done by June 30, 2021.

The most recent discussion of Lucero’s contract took place July 6, during a board meeting that was entirely behind closed doors with board attorney Tom Mooney present. Once members reappeared during the virtual meeting, they quickly adjourned without a public vote.

The negotiation process on Lucero’s contract has not gone without notice from the school community or without speculation on what is behind the delay.

“I’ve been contacted by principals, by community members that know too many details about what went on in private conversations,” said board member Jackie Pioli.

She called such behavior inappropriate, and said the negotiation should be strictly between Lucero and the board.

“Negotiations are a private matter,” she said.

Becky Hamman, another board member, said she too has fielded plenty of queries from interested community members, but can’t divulge any information.

“I have also been contacted by many community members who are confused and have questions,” she said, in a written statement, later adding: “Everything is at a stalemate and we can do better than this.”

Board of Education members have yet to reach a consensus on a revised salary for Lucero. The details of the amount desired, and what is causing the impasse are not public record. Sharon Beadle, spokesperson for the district, said Lucero’s contract was extended by the board until 2023, but that version of the contract is not online.

Lucero’s contract that is posted on the district’s website runs until June 2022, and while a bullet point states “the board shall vote on a new agreement” before June 30, the same section also states that the board could vote on it “prior to the last year of this contract.”

Beadle said she and Lucero would not comment on the matter since it is an ongoing negotiation. Board member Andy George also refused to comment.

Board members Jackie Heftman, Fritz Chery, Dan Dauplaise, and board president Jennienne Burke, were reached for comment, but did not respond.

Board member Nicola Tarzia said he personally likes Lucero and called her “hardworking” and “dedicated.”

He said he’s also trying to find out what others think.

“I’m speaking to school administrators and the parents about how they feel about her overall leadership style,” Tarzia said.

Board member Mike Altamura called for the issue to be resolved soon.

“This has been going on for six weeks,” he said. “It doesn’t seem like there is an end in sight.”

Altamura said the contract impasse will only be detrimental to the school system.

“It’s no good for us and it’s no good for the superintendent,” he said. “We need to start worrying about opening up the schools.

“We can not let this keep going on,” he added.

ignacio.laguarda@stamfordadvocate.com