SAN JOSE -- After several months of negotiations, Santa Clara County Superintendent of Schools Xavier De La Torre has agreed to make monthly payments on the $960,000 low-interest home loan he received in public funds.

The agreement comes as a relief to red-faced members of the Santa Clara County Board of Education, who said they hadn't realized the loan they granted last year didn't require any payments until the superintendent left office.

"I appreciate that Dr. De La Torre agreed to take steps to protect the interests of the taxpayers," said board President Grace Mah.

The payments will amount to $100,000 in out-of-pocket expenses, De La Torre said in a written statement. Under the agreement reached Wednesday with the county board, De La Torre will pay $2,500 monthly in principal and interest on the loan.

"The continued focus on me and my compensation has become a very real distraction for a public agency needing to dedicate its collective focus to our county's students," De La Torre wrote.

To purchase his house in San Jose's Cambrian neighborhood last spring, De La Torre borrowed $500,000 at 2 percent interest and $460,000 at 3 percent interest in public money. The contract, offered to him by the county board when it hired him as superintendent, did not require regular payments on the loan, which would have been payable 18 months after he leaves office.

The favorable loan terms came to light after De La Torre's predecessor, Charles Weis, walked away last summer from the luxury condominium he bought in 2008. He purchased the downtown condo for $890,000 with a combined zero- and low-interest loan from the county board of education, but after retiring in June said the loan was under water. The 18th-floor unit was estimated to be worth $745,000 last summer.

The county school board has sued Weis for what it alleges he owed as of Nov. 20, plus interest after that date of $34.11 daily. The board also alleges Weis failed to pay taxes, insurance and fees on the condo and that he removed light fixtures and ceiling fans when he moved out at the end of June.

According to the lawsuit, Weis has made only one interest payment of $15,562.50 on the loan to the Santa Clara County Office of Education.

After Weis sought to quitclaim his interest in the condominium, the county board reopened negotiations with De La Torre to change the terms of his home-loan payments. At one point De La Torre said he proposed reducing the loan's interest to zero, while paying $3,000 a month for four years toward the principal.

Of the new terms, De La Torre wrote, "My hope is that this forfeiture serves as a clear demonstration of my commitment to the integrity of my office and to the well-being of Santa Clara County taxpayers, who I hope to serve for many years to come."

Contact Sharon Noguchi at 408-271-3775. Follow her at Twitter.com/NoguchiOnK12.