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SHIPROCK — The Central Consolidated School District Board of Education approved the one-year contract for Terri Benn to serve as superintendent for the upcoming school year.

Details about the contract were discussed in executive session during a June 24 special meeting. After reconvening in open session, board members voted 4-0 to approve the agreement. Board member Adam Begaye was absent from the meeting.

"I'm honored and happy to serve the district again. Today was the next step in moving forward as a district," Benn said in an interview after the meeting.

She added the district's focus remains on meeting student needs while balancing concerns about Impact Aid distribution and the potential closure of the San Juan Generating Station.

Board President Charlie Jones Jr. said Benn's contract will start on July 1.

She was named acting superintendent in April 2018 then interim superintendent for the 2018-2019 school year, which ends on June 30.

The board appointed her as superintendent for the 2019-2020 school year on May 21.

"It's finally good that we have a superintendent without the word, 'acting' or 'interim,' in front of it," Jones said.

Board Secretary Christina J. Aspaas said by retaining Benn, the district does not have to take a step back by hiring a new superintendent then explaining to them the various topics facing the district.

"We're not going back to start – meaning retraining and getting up to speed on the issues," Aspaas said.

She explained the issues include the financial impact from the pending generating station closure and the state's response to the court ruling from the Yazzie Martinez lawsuit.

"As we stabilize our leadership here, we can continue, and it gives us more time to address those questions," Aspaas said.

She added that employees receive assurance as well with Benn continuing to lead the district.

Last May, board members heard from an educational consultant about conducting a search for the new superintendent.

Aspaas said there were board members who wanted a search but due to timing and dealing with matters, like the generating station and school funding, such action was not possible.

Jones agreed with Aspaas' sentiments regarding the search being delayed because board members were focused on immediate issues.

Aspaas added the board also examined the district's reputation for retaining superintendents in recent years and it was time they changed that standing.

"We need to stop that and have a relationship with our superintendent," she said.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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