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Austin School Board Mulls Two New Superintendents: One Interim, One Permanent

The Austin ISD school board meets tonight to discuss a budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
KUT News
The Austin school board discussed the search for an interim and permanent replacement for departing superintendent Meria Carstarphen last night.

Austin ISD Superintendent Meria Carstarphen is expected to leave to head Atlanta's public schools in the coming weeks or months. The Austin School Board is just beginning the search for a new superintendent – and one to serve in the interim. 

On Monday night, they talked about the process to appoint an interim superintendent, as well as hiring an outside company to help find a replacement for Carstarphen.

School board president Vincent Torres says the board needs to remember whoever they appoint could be in place for three months to more than a year.

“If they’re in another school district, they may not be able to just leave immediately and they may not be able to start until next year," Torres said. "As much as we ‘d like to be able to identify that person, when they start and when we identify them may not work perfectly with the timing of the school year.”

Five school board seats are up for election in November. Those races  could also affect the timing and decisions of the hiring process. 

Other school board trustees say that so far, community members want current programs like dual language and social emotional learning to continue. They also want the interim superintendent to have some knowledge of the district and a willingness to engage with the community. A few school board members advocated for an open hiring process. Traditionally, school superintendent searches are conducted behind closed doors. 

Trustee Robert Schneider says for him, the most important thing is making sure the board and whoever they choose is able to manage the district’s financial situation.

“Given the challenges coming out of legislative session and solution to the school finance issue, I’m really, really concerned that we get a good grasp on our financial situation," Schneider said. 

While the district is able to pull from its reserves to balance this year's budget and most likely next years, district officials are concerned there isn't a solid funding source to do so in the following year.

While the board is discussing all of these options, Carstarphen still hasn’t officially handed in her resignation. She’s expected to do so after the Atlanta school board officially hires her. The board will vote on her hiring on April 14.

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