Tonight, the Fresno Unified School Board takes another giant leap toward naming our new Superintendent.
Without exaggeration, this process has been exhilarating and exhausting. Educating a city of more than a half-million people is an enterprise with few parallels. Settling on the best vision and deciding on the person best suited to execute that vision is critical.
That said, I am incredibly proud of the search and selection process and wanted to share a few thoughts and reflections.
When we undertook this endeavor, I wanted to ensure that Fresnans would not be shut out of the process. Unlike searches past, we had the luxury to open our doors to our neighbors and help strengthen our search.
Ultimately, we have played host to the most transparent search process in our district’s history.
While difficult choices remain, I am confident that the Board will select the best possible steward for our children and our City’s future.
Before we announce our selection, I wanted to reflect on how far we have come in this process.
On March 22, the Board selected a search firm to launch our search and tailor a pool of applicants. By late April, we had listed the characteristics needed for the next Superintendent.
In May, we held town hall meetings at every single Fresno Unified high school to seek community input on the needs of each area of the school district and their hopes for the next Superintendent. I firmly believe that the best method to select a Superintendent with the vision for our district is to understand what our district – which spans teachers, parents, and students – requires.
Suffice it to say, our town halls were a terrific success and a facilitated much-needed dialogue about our future.
Last month, we closed the application window. Now, the hard work begins.
Tonight, we will narrow down the applicants to a group of finalists. Soon thereafter, each finalist will be the diverse members of our search committee. Later, members of the Board of Trustees will interview finalists.
By August 13, we will have narrowed down to our final candidate. From there, the Board will enter into contract negotiations, if all goes well.
Beyond the Board, there are a large number of people who have spent countless hours working to make this search a success.
Many thanks are owed to former Fresno County Superintendent Larry Powell, First 5 executive director Emilia Reyes, Pete Weber, former Councilman Blong Xiong, Councilman Oliver Baines, Gail Gaston, former Central Unified Superintendent Michael Berg, Benton Johnson, Fresno Teachers Association President Tish Rice, Mattie Thomas, Chuck Riojas, and Drs. Carole Goldsmith and Joseph Castro.
As the Superintendent search committee, they have committed to our children and Fresno’s future. I am grateful for their service.
In three years serving on the Board of Trustees, I can rest assured saying that Fresno Unified’s future has never been more hopeful.
I, like the parents and educators of our district, are excited for how bright our future will be with a Superintendent delivering a much-needed vision to mold the next generation of Fresnans.
This next Superintendent, male or female, arrives at a great time. Years of conservative spending leave Fresno Unified on steady financial footing. The Board of Trustees is equipped to keep our district stable and is uniquely able to manage our finances. We ended the lease-leaseback process, streamlined the process for constructing school facilities, and made the process fair and equitable to all builders.
Elsewhere, our special education department is beginning a full independent audit so we may improve the quality of education for all children. Meanwhile, we are excited to introduce community liaisons who will help turn Fresno Unified more user-friendly for parents needing to engage with our school district.
Equally important, this Board is committed to developing world-class career technical education and is shovel-ready to build a vocational education facility that will place our schools in a class of their own
Lastly, the partnerships the Board recently reconnected with the City of Fresno, Fresno Police Department, the Fresno Teachers Association, and community organizations beyond are strong and the bonds forged will be hard to be broken going foreward.