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What are you looking for in Austin ISD’s next interim superintendent? The school board wants to know.

Austin ISD interim Superintendent Anthony Mays (left) and Austin ISD school board members Arati Singh, Ofelia Zapata and Noelita Lugo discuss the 2022 bond during a meeting Thursday night.
Renee Dominguez
Austin ISD is looking for a new interim superintendent after Anthony Mays (left) announced he is leaving to head Alief ISD in Houston.

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The Austin ISD school board plans to hire a new interim superintendent in less than two weeks, and trustees want to hear from the public before making the decision. Listening sessions will be held over the next several days where the community can share their thoughts. The first ones will be Friday afternoon.

Trustees are working on a tight timeline to replace the current interim Superintendent Anthony Mays because he is leaving to head Alief ISD in Houston. He announced the new job in November, just days after voters elected four new trustees. They were sworn in Thursday night.

After teary goodbyes and parting wisdom from outgoing trustees, the new board got down to brass tacks. New School Board President Arati Singh said applications for the temporary leadership role had recently closed and the board was going to begin reviewing and interviewing candidates next week.

“Community and staff feedback is critical even to the interim superintendent process, so for that reason we’ve scheduled virtual and in-person listening sessions over the next few days,” Singh said.

Here’s a schedule for the upcoming listening sessions:

The board is aiming to name the new interim superintendent by Dec. 15, and the person chosen for the job will start on Jan. 3. While trustees want to hear from families, students, staff and other stakeholders — they also have an idea of what they’re looking for in a candidate.

Trustee Noelita Lugo said she wants someone who can provide stability in the short-term.

“I would be really interested in having somebody who understands what the administration and what the school district is going through,” she said. “Someone with a good understanding of the landscape of the city and AISD, especially given the size of the bond package that has passed.”

That bond package totals more than $2.4 billion, and voters overwhelmingly approved it.

One of the new trustees, Candace Hunter, also weighed in on the qualities she’d like to see in someone selected for the temporary leadership role.

“I think for our interim, I’m looking for the same thing we’re all looking for which is someone our staff will feel comfortable with, be able to take direction from, and be able to work with, so that we can — in this small time — if we’re not growing by feet, we can at least be growing by inches,” Hunter said.

Another new board member, Andrew Gonzales, said he wants an interim who understands the district is in a time of transition.

“We’re about to walk into another legislative session. This person has to be aware of the politics of our city, of the state, and have the competence to be able to navigate that,” he said.

While the board wants to find the right fit for an interim superintendent, the bulk of their focus will be choosing someone for the permanent position with the hopes of them starting by the summer. To start that process, trustees will need to hire a search firm.

The new board took steps last night to approve a request for proposals that could be posted as early as Tuesday. If trustees stick with that timeline, they could hire a search firm by the end of January. Whoever the board hires as superintendent will be Austin ISD’s fifth leader since 2020.

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Becky Fogel is the education reporter at KUT. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @beckyfogel.
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