Cobb County schools superintendent resigns

Cobb County Schools Superintendent Michael Hinojosa says his surprise resignation has nothing to do with the criticism he’s received for the system’s handling of last week’s ice storm, which left hundreds of students stranded on buses and at schools.

In an interview Tuesday with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Hinojosa, 57, said he decided months ago to return to Texas to assist with aging parents but did not want to announce his decision until he had a solution to the nearly $80 million budget deficit facing the district.

“I announced this to my family back in the holidays,” Hinojosa said. “I was looking for the right time to make the announcement.”

The right time came during Monday’s school board meeting. Hinojosa is now projecting the district will be in the black for the next school year, with the system getting about $20 million based on the governor’s recently released budget. He also says the district is spending about $20 million in less money this year due in part to a soft hiring freeze.

The district also expects an increase in local property tax revenues, though it will likely have to pull as much as $30 million from its rainy day fund to stay out of the red, he said.

Hinojosa has led the district, Georgia’s second largest, since June 2011. He served as superintendent for the Dallas school system before accepting the Cobb County job.

Hinojosa’s announcement came on the heels of his apology for the district’s response to last week’s winter storm. He said Monday his timing had nothing to do with that criticism.

Hinojosa said he planned to make his announcement last week, but Thursday night’s school board meeting was rescheduled to Monday due to the weather.

Hinojosa said he plans to leave at the end of May and has been offered a “lucrative” position as a senior vice president at a consulting company that he declined to name. Hinojosa said his new job will offer him the ability to work from home.

“As much as I love Cobb, I love my family more,” Hinojosa said.

Hinojosa served as an educator for more than three decades before coming to Georgia. He took a pay cut to accept the Cobb job and leave Texas, where at the time, he was one of the highest paid urban school superintendents in the country, with a base salary of $328,000. In Cobb, Hinojosa earned a base salary of $237,000 and perks that exceed $28,000 annually.