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Hillsborough chief of staff Alberto Vazquez hired by Connecticut school district

By Marlene Sokol | Times Staff
Published: December 19, 2017 Updated: December 20, 2017 at 08:54 PM
The Hillsborough County School District's second-highest ranking administrator, chief of staff Alberto Vazquez Matos, was hired Tuesday by the public schools system of Hartford, Conn. [ MONICA HERNDON | Times]

TAMPA — The top deputy to Hillsborough school superintendent Jeff Eakins is leaving for a similar position in Hartford, Conn.

By an 8-0 vote, the Hartford Board of Education named Alberto Vazquez Matos its new deputy superintendent Tuesday night. He’ll make $175,000 a year.

That’s nearly $20,000 more than he earned as chief of staff in Hillsborough, a school district about 10 times the size of Hartford’s.

But the circumstances will be very similar.

Hartford, like Hillsborough, has a student body that is heavily Hispanic and bilingual. Demands on schools there are growing while funding remains flat.

"Our city is nearly bankrupt," said Hartford Public Schools spokesman Pedro Zayas. "We’ve had layoffs for the past two years."

In fact, before voting to hire Vazquez, the board and a packed audience heard about plans to consolidate some of Hartford’s schools to save money.

The 43-year-old administrator starts his new job Jan. 8. He replaces Carol Birks, Hartford’s former chief of staff, who was recently named superintendent for the New Haven School District about 40 miles south of Hartford.

Vazquez was one of the first administrators Jeff Eakins hired when he became Hillsborough’s superintendent in July 2015.

They met when Eakins was director of federal programs and Vazquez was superintendent of schools for the Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg. Eakins’ duties included allocating antipoverty funds to the parochial schools.

Days into his tenure, Eakins was hit with a budget crisis — the district’s reserves were dropping by tens of millions of dollars each year. He relied on Vazquez to get control over spending.

Eakins acknowledged Vazquez’s progress in reducing the budget deficit in a statement he issued after the vote in Hartford. "That effort will benefit our students for years to come," he said.

"Dr. Vazquez’s commitment to supporting employees and students is exceptional, and the people of Hartford, where he will soon begin serving as deputy superintendent, are fortunate.’’

Hillsborough officials have not said yet if they will replace Vazquez.

Contact Marlene Sokol at (813) 226-3356 or [email protected] Follow @Marlenesokol.