Before the end of the year, Los Angeles school board members intend to announce the most consequential decision of their tenure — the hiring of a new superintendent.
The job, considered to be one of the most challenging in public education, is being filled at a critical moment for the nation’s second-largest school district. The system is flush with billions of dollars in coronavirus relief aid, additional federal funding and surging state tax revenues. But there is mountainous work ahead. Students are in crisis — struggling to recover from deep pandemic-related learning setbacks as well as mental health issues brought on by extended periods of isolation and other hardships. The district also is beset with declining enrollment and a long-term structural budget deficit.
“The last 21 months have been devastating for so many of the families we serve in L.A. Unified,” said school board President Kelly Gonez. “The pandemic has delivered an unequal burden of illness, death, job loss and trauma that has disproportionately fallen on communities of color. Our superintendent will need to reckon with the profound impacts of the pandemic, the uprisings for racial justice, and the urgent needs of our students and families.”
Officials — who are conducting interviews in the final stages of their national search — would not confirm who has applied. But Gonez said the new leader should be “an experienced educator who can unify the broader Los Angeles community, commit to a long tenure, center the voices and needs of those most historically underserved, build on the talent in our system, and execute at scale to ensure we meet the long-term goals for our students.”
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