Stephanie Elizalde, an administrator in the Dallas Independent School District, has been named the lone finalist for Austin ISD’s next superintendent.
Austin ISD’s Board of Trustees voted to approve her as the final candidate Tuesday night. Elizalde is currently the chief of school leadership in Dallas ISD. The lone finalist must wait 21 days before receiving a contract, according to state law, so Elizalde may be able to be hired by the time classes start Aug. 18.
“We are all looking forward to having her serve our community,” Board President Geronimo Rodriguez said Tuesday night. “I think she’s the right person at the right time.”
Trustee Arati Singh voted in support of Elizalde, and said she liked Elizalde’s thoughtful approach to shutting down schools with declining student populations, something AISD did last year amid controversy. Singh said Elizalde was part of an administration in Dallas that closed schools as well.
“I felt she was able to talk about how important it is to first, before you ever do something like that, you find out why students are leaving in the first place,” Singh said. “Find out what would make parents excited to send their kids to that school and then set up conditions and make real investments to make that happen. She has a track record to show that.”
Two trustees, Jayme Mathias and LaTisha Anderson, abstained from voting because they said they felt Elizalde was not the best candidate. The search attracted 64 candidates from 24 states, but the interviews and names of other candidates were not made public.
Both Anderson and Mathias said they will support Elizalde if she is hired and will work with her.
“I am ever the optimist, though, should she be approved as our next superintendent,” Mathias said. “I’m hopeful that Dr. Elizalde will bring the necessary resources to single-member District 1 and 2 to turn around the performance of historically under-resourced schools.”
Current Superintendent Paul Cruz announced in February he would resign to take a job at UT Austin. The search for his replacement began immediately, and many community members expressed concern that the search continued even when the pandemic shut down schools and forced the district to change how it teaches students.
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