Susan Kincannon

Waco ISD Superintendent Susan Kincannon has reorganized her administrative team, demoting several assistant superintendents and replacing them with people from outside the district. She introduced her new cabinet at Thursday's meeting.

Waco Independent School District Superintendent Susan Kincannon demoted five administrators and replaced three of them with people outside of the district as part of a reorganization of the district’s staff, less than two months into her role.

Kincannon introduced the new administrators at Thursday’s board meeting. She also introduced a new role to the district, chief of staff, that has been filled by the district’s spokesman, Kyle DeBeer. Kincannon and DeBeer previously worked together in Belton ISD, where Kincannon served as superintendent prior to coming to Waco. He is now second-in-command.

Kincannon’s first day as Waco ISD superintendent was Sept. 5. She replaced A. Marcus Nelson, who resigned in March two weeks after his misdemeanor marijuana possession arrest in Robertson County.

DeBeer is the only current employee of the district to receive a promotion so far. His salary increased from $107,000 to $138,000, he said.

“Kyle has established himself as being an effective administrator here in Waco ISD,” Kincannon said.

DeBeer has served as the Waco ISD spokesman for the past two years. He worked in a similar role for four years at Belton ISD under Kincannon’s leadership. Prior to working in public education, DeBeer served as executive director of the Wyoming Democratic Party, deputy director of the Association of State Democratic Chairs and as the Democratic National Committee’s liaison to elected officials, candidates and state parties in 13 western states during President Barack Obama’s first term in office, according to district materials.

After Kincannon introduced the three new assistant superintendents and two new administrators, board secretary Norman Manning told the superintendent he wanted a report at the next meeting of who all was hired, who they replaced, their salaries and any impact to the district’s budget. He said this reorganization came rather soon and that board members should have been given this information before the meeting.

Kincannon said this reorganization of administrators is not a surprise to the board. She said it was important for her to move quickly because of the multiple campuses that received an F accountability rating from the state this year. The ratings are largely based on state standardized exam scores.

Waco ISD received an overall B rating from the state this year. Of the 22 Waco ISD schools that were rated, five received B’s, including both University High School and Waco High School. Seven others received C’s, and seven received F’s. No campus received an A rating.

After the meeting, Kincannon said she demoted the five administrators and hired the new ones because of a number of concerns and patterns she has seen walking through campuses and meeting with principals. She said there has been “insufficient support” for campuses in the areas of curriculum and instruction, human resources and technology.

“I felt like new leadership was needed to move us forward,” she said. “It’s all about meeting the needs of students and improving student outcomes.”

Kincannon also reduced the number of assistant superintendents from eight to five. She said it was unusual for a district of almost 15,000 students to have so many assistant superintendents. The only original Waco ISD cabinet members left include Darvis Griffin, assistant superintendent for technology services; Sheryl Davis, chief financial officer; and DeBeer. Davis’ job title is now assistant superintendent of finance and operations.

The demoted administrators’ salaries are frozen until July 1, when their pay will become commensurate with their job titles, Kincannon said. They each have been notified.

Those administrators include:

  • Elaine Botello, former assistant superintendent for human resources; now recruitment and retention strategist
  • Scott McClanahan, former assistant superintendent for secondary education; now director of college, career and military readiness
  • Grace Benson, former assistant superintendent for elementary education; now director of bilingual and English as a Second Language education
  • Yolanda Williams, former assistant superintendent of school improvement; now executive director of student support
  • Israel Carrera, former assistant superintendent of maintenance and operations; now executive director for operations

The five new staff members are:

  • Rhonda McWilliams, interim assistant superintendent for human resources
  • Deena Cornblum, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction
  • Rachelle Warren, assistant superintendent for student services and support
  • Charlotte Davis, executive director for special education
  • Keonna White, executive director for curriculum and instruction

McWilliams will serve as assistant superintendent for human resources until the district finds a permanent replacement, DeBeer said. The job was posted Oct. 7.

McWilliams comes to Waco ISD with 37 years of experience in public education. She served as a middle and high school principal, superintendent and chief human resources officer, with most of her experience in Fort Bend ISD and Pfugerville ISD. Currently, she is an adjunct professor at Concordia University in Austin.

Because she is a contractor, McWilliams is paid on a daily rate of $575, which would amount to an annual salary of $129,000, DeBeer said.

Cornblum brings 20 years of experience in public education to Waco ISD, as a teacher, literacy coordinator, principal and administrator. She previously served as assistant director in superintendent and campus leadership services with Education Service Center Region 12 in Waco. She also spent nine years as a teacher in Temple and Belton ISDs. Her annual salary is $125,000.

Warren, who starts her new position Monday, comes directly from Belton ISD, where she worked as the director of social and emotional learning and multitiered systems of support. Before that, she worked for the Anti-Defamation League and Pflugerville ISD as an assistant principal, principal and administrator. Her annual salary will be $126,000.

Davis also begins her new job Monday and comes directly from Belton ISD, where she served as the special education coordinator for secondary education. Before that, she worked as an educational diagnostician in Belton ISD and for the Bell County Cooperative for Exception Children. She also was an elementary teacher in Temple ISD. Her annual salary will be $110,000.

White starts her new job with Waco ISD on Nov. 4. She brings 17 years of public education experience with her, in Temple, Killeen and Belton ISDs. She most recently worked with ESC Region 12 but has served as an English teacher, instructional coach, principal and adjunct professor at Temple College. Her annual salary will be $108,000.

Additionally, Kincannon eliminated six vacant positions as part of the process to streamline the district’s staff organizational structure. Those positions included attendance, truancy and dropout recovery supervisor; discipline compliance officer; one of six elementary reading coach positions; grants acquisition and compliance specialist; grants management coordinator; and professional development instructional coach.

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