For the past two months, the South San Antonio Independent School District has been paying more than $1,751 a day to employ two superintendents, according to copies of their contracts.

On Dec. 6, the school board unanimously voted to suspend Superintendent Marc Puig with pay, pending the outcome of an investigation into a private conversation that was picked up by a live microphone. Trustees also unanimously voted to name Henry Yzaguirre, who was Southside ISD’s executive director of operations and construction, as interim superintendent.

While Puig is suspended, South San ISD must continue to pay him about $865 a day, based on his annual salary of $225,000. The school board approved a contract extension and 12% pay raise for Puig in May.

Meanwhile, the school board agreed to pay Yzaguirre $6,195 for services rendered from Dec. 7-15 and $885.96 per day after that. His contract states that Yzaguirre will receive this daily rate from Dec. 16 to June 30, or “until the district reinstates the current superintendent or enters into a contract with another.” For those 119 days, Yzaguirre will be paid no more than $105,309.73, excluding benefits.

The school board may terminate Yzaguirre’s contract, “with or without pay,” for “any reason or no reason at all,” according to the contract.

Between both superintendents, South San ISD has paid roughly $90,260 to Puig and Yzaguirre since Dec. 6.

The district is also having to compensate its state-appointed monitor, Abe Saavedra. In his first three months, Saavedra worked about 55 hours, earning more than $4,600. South San ISD must pay him $85 per hour, plus travel expenses, according to a letter from the Texas Education Agency.

In his latest report to the TEA, Saavedra stated that trustees pressured Puig to hire Yzaguirre to a “high-ranking administrative position” after they voted to raise Puig’s salary. When Puig failed to hire Yzaguirre, several trustees discussed how Puig “had not delivered.”

Yzaguirre previously worked for South San ISD as a high school principal while Saavedra was superintendent. Saavedra served as superintendent from January 2014 to October 2018.

Since Jan. 19, the school board has been trying to meet to act on several agenda items, including Puig’s suspension, but not enough trustees have attended the meetings in person to constitute a quorum. At least four board members must be present in person to meet.

The TEA appointed Saavedra in September after a two-year investigation into South San ISD found that board members failed to cooperate with the superintendent and acted outside of their authority.

The agency opened another investigation into South San ISD on Nov. 29, just three months after concluding the previous inquiry. State Education Commissioner Mike Morath authorized the new investigation in response to complaints the TEA had received about the school board interfering with the superintendent’s duties.

Brooke Crum

Brooke Crum is the San Antonio Report's education reporter.