In 2006, when SAISD trustees had their sights set on Robert Durón for superintendent, grocery magnate Charles Butt – a longtime public-ed advocate with a strong interest in the inner-city district – was in on the action. The H-E-B chief executive not only interviewed the finalist, as we reported in February, but he and other downtown business leaders offered to make up the difference between Durón's salary demands and what the board was looking to pay. The notion seemed to be that money shouldn't stand in the way of a good hire.
The board declined the offer. We're not sure why trustees said no thanks, but the possibility of divided loyalties would've been a pretty good reason. Of course, some trustees felt that's what they got anyway – a superintendent who kept close counsel with Butt, Bartell Zachry of Zachry Corp., and Tom Frost of Frost Bank, but had chilly relations with the board. Hence Durón's departure in February.
But no sooner had Durón landed at the Texas Education Agency than Butt sent word, in a letter to the board in March, that the salary offer was back on the table.