Palo Alto Unified Associate Superintendent Markus Autrey, the district's second-in-command who was hired just 18 months ago, left the district at the end of December, district officials confirmed to the Weekly Monday.
Autrey was terminated under a provision in his contract that states the employment agreement may be terminated at any time by mutual consent of the parties, according to Scott Bowers, assistant superintendent for human resources. His last day was Dec. 31, Bowers said. No public announcement was made of his departure.
Superintendent Max McGee described the decision as a cost-saving measure made in response to the district's ongoing budget deficit. He gave Autrey six-month's notice last summer, McGee said, just after the district discovered it was facing a multimillion dollar budget shortfall and starting to search for places to save, although the superintendent made no mention of it during numerous school board meetings to discuss the budget problems last summer and fall.
Autrey, a former Los Gatos High School principal, was hired to replace Charles Young, who resigned in 2015.
McGee said Autrey's termination was an administrative decision that he informed the school board about but ultimately made himself.
The district's chief student services officer, Holly Wade, and directors of elementary and secondary education, Barbara Harris and Sharon Ofek, respectively, along with McGee are absorbing Autrey's responsibilities, the superintendent said.
Eliminating the associate superintendent position will result in savings this school year of about $100,000, McGee said. Autrey, with annual compensation totaling $216,000, including a $450 per month car allowance, was the third highest paid administrator after McGee.
McGee said he does not intend to fill the position and, given the ongoing budget deficit, said further, "significant restructuring" of the district office is ahead.
Autrey's is the only district office position being eliminated midyear, McGee said, but he will be making recommendations to the board on further cuts this spring. A budget workshop scheduled for Feb. 14 will likely be moved up to Feb. 7 to discuss 2017-18 budget proposals. McGee said he is also eyeing a proposal to bring a consultant in to help the central office become "both more effective and more efficient."
"We're not going to have as many district office positions next year as we have this year," McGee said.