- A former investment banker and one-time publisher of the Los Angeles Times has been named the new superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), according to LA School Report.
- In a 5-to-2 vote Tuesday night, the school board chose Austin Beutner, who has been serving as co-chair of the L.A. Unified Advisory Task Force. Board members opted for a leader without an education background instead of someone like Interim Superintendent Vivian Ekchian and predecessor Michelle King, both educators who rose through the ranks of administrative positions in the district.
- In a tweet, Beutner wrote: “I look forward to working with the school board, parents, employees, labor partners, and the community to build on the progress that has been made at L.A. Unified, to address the challenges we face, and to deliver on our promise to our students.” Beutner will begin his new job of May 14 and earn a salary of $350,000.
LAUSD is the third of the nation’s three largest school districts to choose a new leader within the past several months. While board members in both the Chicago and New York districts chose long-time educators, the LAUSD board’s decision could indicate that they want a chief executive who can address the district’s looming financial crisis due to ballooning pension and health care debt, as Nick Melvoin, board vice president, wrote in this February op-ed.
The district has also been facing declining enrollment for several years, and a union of non-teaching employees, such as cafeteria workers and bus drivers, has already authorized a strike. If Beutner continues to focus on the issues that have been important to the task force he is now co-chairing, then helping parents better access and understand information about their children’s schools will be a priority, which would likely be welcome news to the city’s growing number of parent advocacy groups. The task force has also recommended creating a separate commission that would create a school performance framework and analyze data on other pressing issues for the district.