This story has been updated.

Principals from across Southwest Independent School District crowded into the small board room of the growing district Wednesday night to witness the board approve a contract for the district’s new superintendent, Jeanette Ball. 

The former Judson leader and lone finalist for the position signed her contract after a short 20-minute executive session and heartfelt thanks to outgoing superintendent Lloyd Verstuyft, one of the longest-serving leaders in the region. 

The contract, made public Thursday, shows Ball will earn $255,000 annually for a three-year term. Her predecessor made $290,000 after serving in the role for 15 years, according to his most recent contract.

Ball’s salary will make her among the top 10 highest-paid district leaders in Bexar County, according to recent Texas Education Agency data. Brian Woods, who recently announced his retirement from Northside Independent School District, has the highest superintendent’s salary in the region of $350,000, according to a recent contract.

The median salary for a Texas school superintendent in 2022–23 is $148,950, up 3.5% from the prior year, according to the annual Superintendent Salary Survey conducted by the Texas Association of School Boards and the Texas Association of School Administrators.

Ball, who will begin her new job Feb. 13, thanked God Wednesday evening for the opportunity and her family for support before describing her own experience educational experiences. She recalled an elementary teacher trying to hold her back and a counselor who told her college wasn’t for her. 

“What I did have was a very supportive family,” she said. “My mom and dad that instilled in us that faith through education can change your world, and it can change your life.” 

“I think no one truly knows, when you look at somebody, what their life is really all about,” she said. “A lot of us do a great job of painting a very rosy picture. And we can look at people and say ‘Well, they have no struggles.’” 

Board President Sylvester Vasquez said in a statement he and the board are thrilled to start working with Ball.

“Dr. Ball has an excellent track record for advancing school districts and achieving academic success. Her proven leadership will help Southwest ISD continue on its upwards trajectory. We are fortunate that Dr. Ball is familiar with the traditions and processes that make Southwest ISD a destination district while at the same time bringing a fresh perspective and innovative ideas.”

Judson departure amicable

While the reasons for Ball’s sudden departure from Judson have not been confirmed, she told the San Antonio Report the split was amicable, comparing it to a “marriage.”

“I did what I could with that district, we passed a bond there … so it was just about that time.” 

Ball said she now is looking forward to the possibility of passing a bond in her role as superintendent of Southwest ISD. 

The district’s new leader began her career there in 1995, making her hiring something of a homecoming. 

“I started as a teacher here and I have lots of people that I still know,” she said. 

Ball said her other goals include increasing student achievement and raising salaries for employees.

Both of those metrics are important as San Antonio’s growth funnels students into the 13,788 student district, which is growing, while other districts in the city are seeing enrollment declines. 

“We want to make sure that we can meet the demands and have classrooms that are ready for our students,” she said.

Ball shared cake and refreshments with district staff following the meeting Wednesday night.

Verstuyft, a 1981 graduate of Southwest High School, told the Report he had planned to leave earlier, but didn’t want the board to search for a new leader amid the pandemic. 

“I’ve been in the district 33 years and I’ve been doing this 13 years, so I’m really proud of what’s happened in our district and our community,” he said. 

The outgoing leader said Ball will be joining “a highly connected staff.” 

“The only advice I would have for her is to be who she is,” he said. “The Southwest ISD community and school district is in great hands.” 

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated Jeanette Ball’s salary. According to her contract, she will earn $255,000 annually for a three-year term.