Austin ISD has a new interim superintendent. And he’s a graduate of the district.
The Austin Independent School District's board of trustees unanimously voted to name Matias Segura the new interim superintendent. Segura, who is currently AISD’s chief of operations, will be the district’s second interim superintendent in less than a year.
“I’m humbled, but I’m prepared," Segura told the board Thursday night. "And I’m excited to serve our school communities."
He is replacing Anthony Mays, who is leaving to become the superintendent of Alief ISD in Houston. Mays took over from Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde, who left the district at the end of June to lead Dallas ISD.
After Mays announced his impending departure days after the November election, the school board — which included four new members — set out to quickly find a replacement. Seventeen people applied for the temporary job, and trustees interviewed four finalists last week. Segura is the only one who got a second interview.
Hours before the vote, School Board President Arati Singh acknowledged the turnover Austin ISD has seen in its top position in recent years.
"It's true that in the past three years we've had three superintendents, lost a record number of our teachers and seen our enrollment drop," she said. "These setbacks did not make our community give up."
Singh described the qualities that trustees were looking for in an interim superintendent to navigate the district at this critical time: They wanted someone who could provide stability, improve staff morale and lay the groundwork for the successful implementation of the 2022 bond package that voters overwhelmingly approved last month.
Singh said they also wanted someone who “had genuine love and commitment to AISD.”
Trustees said they found that in Segura. He has worked for Austin ISD for nearly five years, and he is an AISD graduate. He also has two daughters in the district.
“I think what grounds me most and why I truly, truly love this work is because I saw my mom do it for 42 years. She was a teacher here at AISD,” he said. “And I just want to be the best version of myself to support educators like her.”
That experience struck a chord with Trustee Andrew Gonzales, a former Austin ISD teacher.
“As a fellow graduate of the district, as the fellow child of a teacher for multiple decades in the district, I could feel the commitment to the success and the passion for the work you’re about to engage in,” Gonzales said.
Trustee Candace Hunter said that she first met Segura when Austin ISD was in the process of closing four elementary schools.
“I was not a fan. I think we had to get to love each other,” she said. “And I can say this with confidence in our selection: He loves AISD.”
Trustees also considered feedback from Austin ISD families, staff and students in the selection process. Despite its tight timeline to make a hire, the school board held five public listening sessions. Participants repeatedly said they wanted the board to find someone who was welcoming to all members of the school district’s community.
Segura is uniquely positioned to get the district’s 2022 bond projects off the ground while leading the district for at least the next six months. As chief of operations, he played a key role in developing the $2.44 billion bond package.
“And so for me, through that process, I got to understand and really embrace the fact that all of this is being done to support students,” he said.
Another top priority for Segura will be getting AISD’s next annual budget across the finish line. He said he wants to ensure the 2023-2024 budget includes pay raises so the district can retain and attract teachers. More than 2,100 employees left their positions after the last school year, which is the highest number of resignations since the start of the pandemic.
Segura also plans to focus on supporting special education and multilingual education, which were both priorities for school board members.
“So we’re going to do a lot, but at the same time we’re going to be stable,” he said.
Segura begins his role Jan. 3. Also next month, the school board plans to hire a search firm to find a permanent superintendent. Singh said trustees are committed to making the search inclusive and transparent. Their goal is to have someone in that role in July.