SFUSD Superintendent Carlos Garcia announces retirement 

click to enlarge San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Carlos Garcia announced Wednesday morning that he will step down from leading the district. - MIKE KOOZMIN/THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Mike Koozmin/The S.F. Examiner
  • San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Carlos Garcia announced Wednesday morning that he will step down from leading the district.

After leading the San Francisco Unified School District for five years, Superintendent Carlos Garcia announced Wednesday that he will retire in July.

During his tenure at the district, Garcia focused on reducing disparities in the test results, graduation rates and college attendance of black and Hispanic students and their white and Asian peers. His most prominent initiative was the formation of special Superintendent’s Zones in the Bayview and Mission neighborhoods, a structure that has allowed the district to pour resources into historically low-performing schools.

Also Wednesday, the school board announced that it had begun negotiating with Deputy Superintendent Richard Carranza to succeed Garcia.

Speaking before a crowd of nearly 100 teachers and principals, along with school board members and Mayor Ed Lee, Garcia said he was leaving the district “with great mixed emotions” after a 37-year career in education.

“Our work at SFUSD has restored my faith in the excellent opportunities that do exist in public education,” he said. “The work we have started still has a long way to go, but if the SFUSD maintains this course I have no doubt that it will achieve its mission of diminishing the power of demographics in determining student academic success.”

Garcia, who previously served as superintendent in Las Vegas and Fresno, was appointed to succeed Arlene Ackerman in June 2007 after a six-month search. Ackerman’s reign had been marred by a heated relationship with the school board, a sharp contrast with Garcia’s less controversial tenure.

“I’m so grateful that this is not one of those situations where he is out of here on a rail, because we’ve had that before, and it is painful for the entire district,” said board member Kim-Shree Maufas.

Board President Norman Yee said he and his colleagues elected not to open the search to more candidates, instead voting to begin talks with Carranza at a closed meeting March 8.

“This is what we’re looking for. Why are we wasting time and money on a nationwide search?” Yee said. “We want to have a smooth transition.”

Carranza, whose two children attend SFUSD schools, said he was “humbled and thrilled” at the job offer, which he hoped would be finalized next month.

“I’m just so excited about this, because we’re not going to miss a beat,” he said. “We don’t have time to waste.”
Carranza’s all-but-certain appointment as the next superintendent was met with disapproval by United Educators of San Francisco, the district’s teachers union.

“There has been no open process for a successor,” said union spokesman Matthew Hardy. “This has been completely behind closed doors.”

Although Garcia has previously worked well with the union, the district’s move to set aside seniority rules and protect teachers in the “Superintendent’s Zones” from layoffs this year soured that relationship.

Ken Tray, the union’s political director, said Garcia would leave teachers in a state of “disarray, discord and divisiveness.”

Garcia, who has overseen five years of rising student achievement markers, has also weathered several years of state budget cuts. His final few months will not be easy, as the district faces a budget shortfall of at least $35 million.


Reign at the district

Superintendent Carlos Garcia has seen rising student achievement and staggering budget cuts during his five years at the helm of the San Francisco Unified School District.

  • 2007: Appointed at a salary of $255,000 after a lengthy national search. SFUSD’s Academic Performance Index is 763 out of a possible 1,000.
  • 2008: The school board votes to adopt “Beyond the Talk,” Garcia’s plan to close the achievement gap and focus on “access and equity.” Voters approve Proposition A, a Garcia-backed parcel tax to raise teacher salaries.
  • 2010: “Superintendent’s Zones” created, including 10 schools with a history of low test scores that qualify for federal School Improvement Grants. School board approves budget with $30 million in cuts.
  • 2011: SFUSD’s Academic Performance Index hits 796. School board approves budget with $20 million in cuts.
  • 2012: Garcia announces retirement.

Sources: SFUSD, S.F. Examiner archives

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