Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Alice Echo-News Journal

Agua Dulce ISD School Board members voted unanimously to approve the contract Monday night for superintendent finalist Donna Hilliard, after 40-minutes of deliberation in closed session.

Hilliard said she is eager to begin, and returning to Agua Dulce is a homecoming of sorts.

Hilliard previously taught in the school district, before her tenure as principal of Tuloso Midway Elementary School.

"I feel like this is the beginning for an incredible change for me, but also for the community. I think it's going to be a proactive change. It's been awhile since the community has been involved with their kiddos at school and they're going to be very involved," Hilliard said. "They may not know how involved they're going to be. That's the key to success for kids, bringing the adults in to support them. I'm very excited."

Board president Michael Carper was excited about finally completing the superintendent search process. He said come July 1, Hilliard will be ready to take the reigns of Agua Dulce ISD.

"We're pretty excited. We're ready to move on and start with new personnel and see where we can go. It's been a long process but I think we've come up with a great candidate," Carper said

Hilliard's contract is set for two years. Carper would not disclose her salary Monday night, but the Alice Echo-News Journal filed an official Freedom of Information request Tuesday morning for the contracted salary amount approved for Hilliard, and the current salary of outgoing superintendent Paul Czerwinski.

During Hilliard's mid-management certification, she took the 45-hour program of course requirements, which includes courses that are applied to the superintendent certification, Carper said. Hilliard still must complete a module on the Internet and take an exam to receive her certification. According to her contract, Carper said she will be given to the end of the 2007-2008 school year to complete her certification.

Czerwinski will assist Hilliard when she begins.

"Mr. Czerwinzki has already stated he will be available. He said his goal was to make this as smooth a transition as possible. This will be her first superintendency, and he will be able to show her a few things that will help. We're looking for a smooth transition, and we're excited about it and ready to get it done," Carper said.